BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — International Space Station commander Alexander Gerst says he is grateful two astronauts are doing well after an exceedingly rare and harrowing launch abort ended their journey toward the orbiting laboratory.
Gerst, a European Space Agency astronaut from Germany, tweeted from orbit after the failed launch: “Spaceflight is hard. And we must keep trying for the benefit of humankind.”
Glad our friends are fine. Thanks to the rescue force of >1000 SAR professionals! Today showed again what an amazing vehicle the #Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure. Spaceflight is hard. And we must keep trying for the benefit of humankind #Exp57 #SoyuzMS10 pic.twitter.com/H7RmToBb5C
— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) October 11, 2018
He thanked the rescue force that arrived quickly to retrieve American Nick Hague and Russian Alexei Ovchinin from their capsule after an emergency landing. The capsule was jettisoned from a three-stage booster rocket that failed two minutes after liftoff.
Hague and Ovchinin were supposed to spend the next half year aboard the International Space Station.
Gerst wrote that the mishap shows “what an amazing vehicle the Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure.”
Flight controllers kept the three space station residents abreast of the situation after Thursday’s aborted launch.
“The boys have landed,” Mission Control assured the crew consisting of one American, one German and one Russian.
Two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan after their Soyuz rocket failed two minutes after launch.
Russian controllers told the space station astronauts that NASA’s Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin endured 6.7 times the force of gravity during their steeper than usual entry. It was Hague’s first rocket launch.
There was no immediate word on whether the space station crew might need to extend its own six-month mission.
Two spacewalks planned for later this month were off indefinitely. Hague was supposed to be one of the spacewalkers.