United States astronaut thanks Russian rescuers

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The failure of the booster rocket, just two minutes after the launch and at an altitude of 50 kilometres, activated an emergency rescue system which sent the capsule carrying United States astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin into a risky ballistic descent.

Just over two minutes into the flight of the latest Soyuz rocket, delivering crew members to the International Space Station, the booster suffered some kind of in-flight accident, as debris was spotted in the rocket's wake during live coverage of the launch.

Both the USA space agency NASA and Russia's Roscosmos reported that the two were quickly recovered from the landing area by rescue crews.

Kenny Todd, space station manager at NASA, said that the existing crew can stay on ISS till January and, if Russian Federation doesn't resume the Soyuz launches by that time, the flight controllers can operate the station without anyone onboard.

Mr Bridenstine said that he had full confidence in the safety and reliability of Russian-made Soyuz space rockets.

Ovchinin, 47, previously visited the space station in 2016, spending 172 days in orbit.

Instead NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin returned to Earth in a ballistic return of their capsule from an altitude of over 30 miles.

The mishap occurred as the first and second stages of a Russian rocket separated shortly after the launch from Kazakhstan's Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur. Mission control told astronauts aboard the space station that during the landing, "the boys" experienced forces of about 6.7 G in a call that NASA later broadcast on the live commentary.

He also added that all Soyuz launches are suspended until the investigation is finished.

The investigation into a mysterious hole on a Russian ISS module has been left on a cliffhanger as several spacewalks had to be scrapped after a Soyuz rocket failed to bring two crewmembers aboard the station. NASA's Bridenstine said Hague, the USA astronaut, had told him he wanted to fly again and that NASA had huge confidence in him but that he didn't know when he might fly.

Both are scheduled to return to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, today; Hague is expected to fly home to Houston next week.

Returning to Earth in a Soyuz capsule is no walk in the park on a good day.

Thursday's failure was the first manned launch failure for the Russian space program since September 1983 when a Soyuz exploded on the launch pad.

"We can both do more in space together than we can ever do alone", Bridenstine said.

"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully", the statement continued.

Russia's RIA news agency reported that Russian Federation has immediately suspended all manned space launches after the failure. Hague and Ovchinin are being taken from their emergency landing site to Moscow.

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