ISS-Bound Soyuz Rocket Fails, Astronauts Aboard are OK
Kyle Maxey posted on October 11, 2018 |

A Russian Soyuz rocket ferrying both American and Russian astronauts to the International Space Station failed to reach orbit earlier this morning.

According to NASA, which is still searching for answers about today's failed launch, the Russian-built Soyuz rocket experienced a booster separation failure. Fortunately, both astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin have been returned to Earth safely.

Minutes after lift-off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Soyuz rocket experienced a critical problem forcing the craft into a ballistic re-entry maneuver. While details concerning today's failed launch are still being collected by both American and Russian officials, the high-profile televised rocket launch made it possible for outside experts to weigh in on the malfunction.

Observers of the launch began to notice mid-launch that objects in the cabin began to float around in an unusual manner, and the two-man crew reported to ground control that they had a sense of weightlessness. From these clues, experts argue that the problem with the launch was likely due to a failure in separation of the Soyuz's second stage.

The Soyuz capsule during it's ballistic reentry procedure.
The Soyuz capsule during it's ballistic reentry procedure.

After initiating the re-entry sequence, the Soyuz rocket shifted mission direction and deposited the pair of astronauts 20 kilometers east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Had today's launch been successful, these two spacefaring passengers would have joined the three astronauts currently aboard the ISS for a six-month mission period.

Astronaut Nick Hague and Cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin before launch.
Astronaut Nick Hague and Cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin before launch.

While today's launch will certainly be seen as a failure by many, the fact that loss of life was avoided is a testament to the protocols employed by NASA and their Russian counterparts, and the impressive engineering of fail-safes built into rocket technology.   

For more on rocket launches, check out SpaceX Maiden Successfully Launches (and Recovers) Falcon 9 Block 5.

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