Astronauts in miracle escape as rocket fails

Astronauts in miracle escape as rocket fails

Russian Federation now operates the only spacecraft for ferrying crews to the station following the retirement of the US space shuttle fleet, but it stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of commercial USA crew capsules - SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner.

In 2011, the United States grounded the only real alternative - the Space Shuttle fleet - giving Russian Federation a monopoly on getting people to and from the space station.

Nasa's top official suggested on Friday that a new mission to the International Space Station could take place this year after Russian experts address the cause of a Soyuz rocket malfunction and the crew's harrowing escape from the outer edge of the stratosphere.

Former military pilots Ovchinin and Hague had been set to join the ESA's Gerst, NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos following a six-hour flight.

Krikalev said the launch of the next supply craft, a Russian Progress rocket, may be delayed.

Sergei Krikalyov, the head of Roscosmos' manned programs, said the launch went awry after one of the rocket's four boosters failed to jettison about two minutes into the flight, damaging the main stage and triggering the emergency.

"I think that by the middle of next year we'll be flying crews on those rockets", said Bridenstine. Whatever the outcome of the inquiry, this event will only heighten those concerns and will underline to the USA in particular the need to bring online new rocket systems.

In 2014, NASA awarded contracts to SpaceX and Boeing to develop vehicles capable of ferrying astronauts to the station. The capsule automatically separated from the rocket.

New NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who watched the launch at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome with his Russian counterpart, said Hague and Ovchinin were in good condition.

Still, even with the push for private space travel, there have been warnings about more delays.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Kenny Todd, NASA's ISS Operations Integration Manager, said that the agency is "always prepared" for the possibility of having to de-crew the station and that he feels "very confident that we could fly for a significant amount of time" with no crew, as the systems are created to be able to continue operating - although not indefinitely.

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China has successfully put its astronauts into orbit, but its space program is still in relative infancy. NASA plans to resume US launches to the space station on private spacecraft built by SpaceX and Boeing, beginning in 2019. A crewed launch on Crew Dragon could occur in June of 2019.

European company Arianespace is also building out its commercial launch portfolio for satellites.

Borisov said Russian Federation will fully share all relevant information with the US, which pays up to $82 million per ride to the space station.

Rescue crews then raced to the scene to retrieve them with reports of paratroopers parachuting to their landing spot. The Soyuz is the only way to get to and from the station.

That could mean another launch before mid-December, when the three-member crew of the space station was scheduled to end their six-month mission.

Moscow says the hole is the result of deliberate drilling and has suggested sabotage, while the USA space agency said earlier this week that investigators will determine the cause.

Russian officials said they were launching a criminal investigation into the accident, the first such incident on a manned flight in the country's post-Soviet history. Russian Federation says there is enough food on board to last until April. "The ISS works like a huge bureaucratic institute, and Russian Federation can be equal to the United States in this bureaucracy".

In addition to the Soyuz, there have also been problems with the Proton rocket, prompting the authorities to move to phase it out more quickly.

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.

"That makes Russian Federation a great power", Luzin says.

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