Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote, but they have kept cooperating in space. Horrifyingly, a hole was recently discovered on a different Soyuz capsule, the MS-09, that was attached to the International Space Station in late August. The leak was quickly repaired, but Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin suggested that the leak was caused by something other than an accident or production defect.
"Scary, scary, scary - not what we wanted", one family member said. For this reason, the Soyuz capsule rotates on its axis of trajectory during descent to boost stability (similar to a bullet fired from a rifle), it adds. "Search and rescue teams are heading towards the expected touchdown location of the spacecraft and crew", tweeted NASA. Spacewalks take extensive, long-term planning, so the crew and their teams back on Earth will have to come up with an alternative plan.
Russian space agency Roscomos will reportedly perform an inspection of the Progress Rocket Space Centre, where manufacturing of the Soyuz rocket took place.
Unfortunately, an anomaly with the booster shortly after takeoff forced the rocketeers to abort their mission and make a "ballistic landing" back on Earth.
"The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is the only vehicle which is now able to send astronauts to space and bring them home form the International Space Station and it has been doing this for decades".
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The capsule jettisoned from the booster and went into a ballistic descent, landing at a sharper than normal angle.
Thursday's early morning launch was broadcast live by NASA TV. NASA said Hague and Ovchinin experienced more than six times the force of gravity before tumbling onto a grassy expanse more than 200 miles from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. "We plan that they will fly in the spring".
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists: "Thank God the cosmonauts are alive".
The United States is developing commercial space launches but problems with the Soyuz present a headache for NASA, which has a policy of having a continuous presence in space. They arrived at the station in June.
Video footage from the launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome shows a large plume of smoke coming from the rocket at the moment it failed and footage from inside the capsule shows the two astronauts being violently shaken about. "And we must keep trying for the benefit of humankind". NASA is working closely with Roscosmos to ensure the safe return of the crew.