Space crew survives plunge to Earth after Russian rocket fails

A view shows the Soyuz capsule transporting U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin, after it made an emergency landing following a failure of its booster rockets, near the city of Zhezkazgan in central Kazakhstan October 11, 2018. Federal Air Transport Agency "Rosaviation"/Handout via REUTERS.

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan (Reuters) – A Russian cosmonaut and a U.S. astronaut were safe on Thursday after a Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff in Kazakhstan, leading to a dramatic emergency landing.

The two-man crew, Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and American Nick Hague, landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe as rescue crews raced to reach them, according to the U.S. space agency NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.

The mishap occurred as the first and second stages of a Russian booster rocket separated shortly after the launch from Kazakhstan’s Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.

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