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The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft is launched with Expedition 57 Flight Engineer Nick Hague of NASA and Flight Engineer Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, Oct. 11. Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA is citing an issue with a Russian Soyuz booster rocket as the cause of the aborted launch of a rocket carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, two minutes after takeoff from Russia Thursday morning.

Details: The rocket reached about 31 miles in altitude — just below the boundary of space — when the failure occurred, Deputy Chief Astronaut Reid Wiseman said during a press conference Thursday. The crew landed approximately 11 miles outside of Zhezqazghan, a small city in central Kazakhstan. NASA officials praised Russian rescue efforts for retrieving both crews safely.

  • Neither crew was injured in the process. Wiseman told reporters, "The crew experienced about 6-7 times Earth's gravity, which is not insignificant, but from everything we've seen, the crew's in great shape, they're in biking order, they're healthy."
  • The current International Space Station crew, commanded by Alexander Gerst, will stay put and can get resupplied while NASA decides the next steps.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

The big picture: The Soyuz rocket is currently the only way U.S. astronauts can access low Earth orbit, pending the certification of SpaceX and Boeing's spacecraft for the Commercial Crew program, which won't come for at least another year.

  • When asked about the U.S.-Russia relationship moving forward, Kenny Todd, International Space Station operations integration manager, responded: "Clearly over the last 7 years we have relied on the Russians to get our astronauts to space and that partnership has just continued to grow. ... We're very proud of the relationship that we have here at NASA and with our Rococosmos. When it comes to technical issues, they really don't know political boundaries ... we've made a lot of good things happen."

What's next: Todd explained that the Russian agency is setting up an investigation into what caused the failure, but added that they do not suspect criminal activity. The group running the investigation "will be tasked with trying to understand exactly what happened and what recovery efforts are needed in order to get flying again," Todd said.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to indicate the Soyuz rocket is manufactured and operated by Russia.

Go deeper

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

5 hours ago - World

Zelensky questions U.S. warnings of "imminent" invasion in Biden call

Biden and Zelensky at the White House last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a back-and-forth in their call this evening about just how "imminent" the threat of a Russian invasion might be, according to three sources briefed on the call.

Why it matters: Biden has said previously that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably "move in" to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon that "an invasion could come at any time."