Published: Wed, October 17, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

NASA astronaut who survived failed launch describes close call

NASA astronaut who survived failed launch describes close call

Hague said he is disappointed to be back home instead of walking in space, but he's happy to be reunited with his wife and their two young sons, and is ready to fly again as soon as NASA gives him the word. The Russian booster rocket failed, forcing the spacecraft to make an emergency landing.

On October 11, a Nasa astronaut and Russian cosmonaut were set to go to the International Space Station (ISS) for a six-month-long trip. "And then there was an alarm inside the capsule, and the light that was up there..."

Both are now waiting for the results of an investigation into why the Soyuz rocket malfunctioned and never made it to the International Space Station, forcing Ovchinin to command a ballistic descent back to Earth amid a communication breakdown with mission control.

Hague said he and Ovchinin, his commander, were flung from side to side and shoved back hard into their seats, as the drama unfolded 50 kilometres (31 miles) above Kazakhstan last Thursday. But while Hague had been through simulations of all sorts of midflight events, he had never flown to space before, which meant he wasn't always sure whether an experience was typical of spaceflight or unique to their abrupt journey.

The Ovchinin-Hague crew has undergone good training and thanks to the Soyuz spacecraft's reliable safety system, there are no medical pre-requisites for delaying the flight or re-staffing the crew, the Roscosmos official said.

This is the first emergency landing with this type of carrier rocket over the past 35 years.

"The first two minutes of the launch were going great", Hague says.

He also took the opportunity to look out the window - not exclusively to admire Earth and space, but also to check how the spacecraft was positioned. "And, luckily for us, it was smooth, flat terrain and it ended up as a pretty smooth landing". Were we going to be on the steppes of Kazakhstan? Reportedly, we may hear more about it sometime after October 20. His youngest wanted to know when he was going back to space.

Krikalyov said findings of the investigation are expected to be released by the end of next week. That includes monitoring the capsule's orientation and how systems are responding to different inputs.

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