Billionaire Elon Musk's Space Explorations Technologies Corp. and Boeing Co. have contracts to deliver astronauts to the ISS starting next year, which may threaten a key source of funding for Russia's space program.
The two crew members, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and American astronaut Nick Hague, are in good health, officials say.
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists: "Thank God the cosmonauts are alive". He added that the president is receiving regular updates about the situation.
Hague and Ovchinin were set to replace astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, as well as Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, who departed ISS and returned to Earth last week. "I strongly believe we're going to get the right answer to what caused the hole on the International Space Station and that together we'll be able to continue our strong collaboration", Bridenstine said, as reported by the Associated Press.
Photographs released by Roscosmos after the rescue showed the two astronauts smiling and relaxing on sofas at a town near their landing site as they underwent blood pressure and cardiac tests.
Hague was born in the same year the United States and the Soviet Union launched their first joint space mission, the Apollo-Soyuz, or Soyuz-Apollo mission in 1975. This would allow them to remain aboard the Station for another six months, hopefully enough time to complete the accident investigation and resume normal launches. Dzhezkazgan is about 280 miles northeast of Baikonur.
More details on the status of Hague and Ovchinin when they come in. The Soyuz capsule has landed back on Earth carrying two crew members. The pair were due to join the three-person Expedition 57 crew already aboard the International Space Station. "NASA is working closely with Roscosmos to ensure the safe return of the crew".
The International Space Station in orbit above Earth.
Oleg Orlov, the head of the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems, Russia's top space medicine research center, said in televised remarks that the astronauts endured six Gs during the sharp ballistic descent. Hague was supposed to be one of the spacewalkers.
Thursday's incident was the first launch mishap for a Russian Soyuz booster since an on-pad abort in August 1983, CBS reported. Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX's Dragon v2 and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules. "Today showed again what an unbelievable vehicle the Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure".
Today's failed Soyuz launch thankfully resulted in no casualties, but the fate of the International Space Station (ISS) is now in question.
Russia, which relies on boosters designed during the Soviet Union, has a reputation for reliability with spacecraft.
Glitches found in Russia's Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh.
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