Russia Suspends Manned Space Launches

NASA head: Space station hole cause will be d...

NASA head: Space station hole cause will be d...

Moscow has suspended all manned space launches, while Rogozin has ordered a state commission to investigate what went wrong.

The head of the US space agency says he is sure that the cause will be determined of a mysterious hole that appeared on the International Space Station, which his Russian counterpart has said was deliberately drilled.

Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Russian space agency Roscosmos's Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2.40pm local time from the Baikonur cosmodrome on a Soyuz booster rocket.

About a half-hour later, the capsule parachuted onto a barren area about 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

"Thank God the cosmonauts are alive", Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists. He added that a "thorough investigation" will be conducted. Ovchinin, the Russian cosmonaut, can be heard saying: "That was a quick flight". Hague, one of the two crewmembers on today's launch, was scheduled to take part in two upcoming spacewalks on October 19 and 25 to replace batteries attached to the outside of the space station.

They were to dock at the orbiting outpost six hours later, but the booster suffered a failure minutes after the launch. That in turn had hindered the separation of the first stage of the rocket from its second stage. A cloud of sand billowed up as the capsule came down on the desert steppe. Officials said they would suspend manned launches in light of the latest accident.

Search and rescue teams immediately were scrambled to recover the crew, and paratroopers were dropped from a plane to reach the site quickly.

But the consequences of the failed launch will ripple through the space station's activities.

Hague is a colonel in the Air Force.

"It was a tough day, no doubt, but at the end of the day, the training paid off for everybody", he said.

The astronauts were returned to Baikonur for medical checks and to see their families. As night fell in Central Asia, Hague and Ovchinin were being examined by medical officials and would soon likely return to Russian Federation to the space training facility in Star City.

It was to be the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013. Ovchinin spent six months on the station in 2016. Russia's space agency Roscosmos said a blocked fuel duct was at fault. "And we must keep trying for the benefit of humankind".

International groups of astronauts often accompany each other to the International Space Station in joint launches.

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The two men "will definitely have their flight", he tweeted. Hague was supposed to be one of the spacewalkers.

Russian Federation has said it will suspend all its manned flights to the International Space Station until the cause of the accident has been investigated. Their Soyuz capsule is good for about 200 days in orbit. Given that the team no longer needs to help new astronauts settle in to life on the space station, the team is planning to bulk up their science work in the near future. A "launch escape system" - a rocket mounted above the capsule - pulled the capsule away from the rocket seconds before an explosion. Todd says someone has to be on board for the arrival of the commercial demo missions, for safety reasons.

The Russian space industry has suffered a series of problems in recent years, including the loss of a number of satellites and spacecraft.

Roscosmos promised to share all relevant information with NASA, which pays up to $82 million per Soyuz seat to the space station.

"I hope that the American side will treat it with understanding", he said.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential vote, but Russia and the US have maintained cooperation in space.

Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of the SpaceX's Dragon v2 and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules.

Two astronauts who survived the mid-air failure of a Russian rocket will fly again and are provisionally set to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) in spring of next year, the head of Russia's space agency said on Friday. However, exactly when that crew will return to Earth is uncertain, as it may depend on when their relief arrives at the space station.

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

"It's a dramatic situation but it was possible to avoid a very much worse turn of events", he said in televised remarks.

A group photo taken of the full International Space Station crew shortly before three astronauts left earlier this month.

The crew endured higher than normal G-force, but Russian and US space officials said they were in good condition.

Glitches found in Russia's Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws.

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