Just over two minutes into the flight of the latest Soyuz rocket, delivering crew members to the International Space Station, the booster suffered some kind of in-flight accident, as debris was spotted in the rocket's wake during live coverage of the launch.
"The search and rescue teams have reached the Soyuz spacecraft landing site and report that the two crew members are in good condition and are out of the capsule", NASA tweeted. Dzhezkazgan is about 450 kilometres northeast of Baikonur. The crew bailed out at an altitude of 164,000 feet and landed safely in Kazakhstan.
Search and rescue teams were heading to the area to recover the crew.
It was the first serious launch problem experienced by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983 when a fire broke out at the base of the booster rocket while the crew was preparing for lift-off.
International groups of astronauts often accompany each other to the International Space Station in joint launches.
ISS crews are rotated out on a six month schedule because that's about how long a Soyuz capsule can remain viable in orbit.
Astronauts Make Emergency Landing After Booster Failed
Astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 1:40 a.m. At this moment, there are no Soyuz spacecraft berthed at the orbiting science station.
The flight was carrying NASA's Nick Hague and Russia's Alexey Ovchinin. He didn't say if he suspected any of the current crew - an American, a Russian and a German aboard the station.
Rogozin said at the time that the launch of the 2.6 billion-rouble ($39.02 million) satellite had been due to an embarrassing programming error. But previous versions of the manned Soyuz launch vehicle have twice seen their launch abort systems activated.
"That relationship is strong, and whatever happens terrestrially, we've always been able to keep space exploration and discovery and science separate from whatever terrestrial disputes there may be", he said.
It was the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013.
Russian space agency Roscosmos has released photographs of both astronauts being checked over after their abrupt landing.
In 2008, a Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson made an unplanned ballistic re-entry on its return to Earth from the International Space Station.
Hadfield told CTV News Channel that he considered it "very unlikely" Saint-Jacques' launch would go on as scheduled given Thursday's failure. "A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted", said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who was in Kazakhstan for the rocket launch.
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