US, Russian astronauts land safely after Soyuz rocket failure

World Today

Moscow has opened a criminal case over suspected violations of safety rules after the failed launch of a Russian rocket. Two crew members were flying to the International Space Station when the rocket malfunctioned 2 minutes after lift off. They were able to land safely in Kazakhstan in a rescue capsule and are in good health.

CGTN’s Julia Chapman has more from Moscow.

It looked like a routine launch. The Soyuz spacecraft lifted off carrying a Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague to the International Space Station to join three other crew members already on board.

Minutes after takeoff it was clear something was not right. The ascent had to be aborted after the booster rocket apparently failed to separate from the Soyuz capsule.

The astronauts had to make an emergency landing using the “ballistic descent” method.

Parachutes helped bring the capsule down safely in the flat grasslands of Kazakhstan 320 kilometers from where it launched.

“Of course, the situation is unpleasant. But as you know, there were similar cases in the history of space programs. On the other hand, efficiency of the emergency escape system is confirmed and that is very important,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said.

Keith Cowing discusses Soyuz launch failure

CGTN’s Elaine Reyes spoke with Keith Cowing, an astrobiologist, about the failed Soyuz rocket launch.