Gerst took the opportunity to point out that the Soyuz spacecraft is "an incredible vehicle", as it was able to save the crew after its booster failure. The space station has enough food and supplies for the current crew to last six months, the Interfax news service reported, citing an unidentified person.
The duo had lifted off from the Russian-operated Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. He says such key systems have built-in redundancies and could survive failures even if there is no crew available to do repairs.
The Soyuz capsule carrying the two men then separated from the malfunctioning rocket and made what NASA called a steep ballistic descent to Earth with parachutes helping slow its speed.
"The boys have landed", Mission Control assured the crew consisting of one American, one German and one Russian.
The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the International Space Station following the retirement of the USA space shuttle fleet. 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.
The three astronauts now on board the space station have been informed of the failed launch and their schedule for the day is being reshuffled, since they'll no longer be able to greet the incoming duo.
Had the launch gone smoothly, Ovchinin and Hague would have reached the space station later today.
"A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted", Bridenstine said, saying the safety of the crew was the utmost priority for NASA. But exactly when the astronauts will be sent home is still unclear.
Hadfield noted that the launch failure should not be seen as an indictment of the Soyuz rockets, calling mechanical failure part and parcel of space travel.
It was the latest in a recent series of failures for the Russian space program, which is also used by the U.S.to carry its astronauts to the station. The mission was aborted shortly after launch, and the pair returned to earth safely in an emergency landing.
Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin retained an enviable sang-froid Thursday as he realised while travelling at thousands of miles an hour that his spacecraft would have to make an emergency landing +.
Still, these failures have been few and far between.
Family members breathlessly awaited the result of the rocket launch, the culmination of a childhood dream for Hague, a 43-year-old Hoxie native and U.S. Air Force colonel. A Falcon 9 exploded later in 2016 before it had even launched. The crew narrowly escaped before a large explosion. But these failures have been hard learning experiences for the company, which plans to launch its first crewed capsule in 2019.
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