A Soyuz rocket booster failed during the launch of a capsule carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin Thursday, forcing officials to abort their mission. The capsule made a "ballistic landing" and rescue teams recovered the pair, who are reportedly in "good condition," NASA says.
Hague and Ovchinin were headed to join the crew of the International Space Station when the Soyuz MS-10's booster failed after launching from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
A NASA commentator on the agency's TV network describes a ballistic landing this way: "That means it comes in at a sharper angle to land than we normally land at. And that means that the crew inside experiences higher G-force loads as they go through the landing."
A recording of communications between the space station and NASA stated that Hague and Ovchinin had experienced 6.7 G's — about the same as Apollo astronauts during reentry, according to Air and Space magazine.
"That is a landing mode we've seen before," the commentator said. Search and recovery teams had been predeployed to areas beneath the possible flight path. Helicopters were able to reach Haig and Ovchinin fairly quickly and extract them from the capsule.
"I'm grateful that everyone is safe. A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who was in Russia for the launch that occurred around 4:40 a.m. ET.
The Roscosmos Space Agency says it is forming a state commission to investigate the aborted launch.
NASA says it chose Hague as an astronaut in 2013 and completed training in 2015; he had been scheduled to perform at least two spacewalks as part of his mission on the space station.