The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:40 a.m. EDT Thursday, October 11 (2:40 p.m.in Baikonur) carrying American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev have been told about the accident. "But never in the 20-year history of the ISS program has a manned Soyuz rocket experienced a problem on launch".
For years, since NASA's final shuttle mission launched in 2011, the USA has relied on Russian rockets to send astronauts to the International Space Station, which is largely funded by America taxpayer dollars.
A Russian cosmonaut and a US astronaut were safe on Thursday after a Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff in Kazakhstan, leading to a dramatic emergency landing.
NASA said the spacecraft was making a "ballistic descent" - meaning under the force of gravity alone - toward Earth and that search and rescue teams were heading towards the expected touchdown site. They were met by rescue teams in remote Kazakhstan more than 200 miles from their launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Yet Soyuz MS-10 had to abort the space mission after the booster's malfunction.
It was the latest in a recent series of failures for the troubled Russian space program, which is used by the U.S.to carry its astronauts to the station. The space agency recently announced the nine astronauts that will crew the test flights and first missions of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.
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The TASS news agency said that the ISS crew has enough supplies and that the failed launch will not affect operations.
The failed launch of the Soyuz comes at a time of heightened tensions between the Americans and the Russians over the hole that caused an oxygen leak on the International Space Station.
Russian officials said all manned space flight missions would be suspended until investigators figure out what went wrong.
Rescuers have reached the site of the Russian "Soyuz" spacecraft's emergency landing, Interfax and TASS news agencies reported on Thursday, citing military officials.
It comes weeks after a hole was discovered in the International Space Station amid talk from the Russian space authorities of deliberate sabotage.
During a trip to Moscow this week, Bridenstine emphasized the importance of continuing to work with Russia's NASA equivalent, Roscosmos. Three Americans, two Russians and one German are now aboard the station.
Russian activities in Ukraine, charges of interfering in the US presidential election of 2016 and the conflict in Syria are some of the main issues.