WATCH updates as astronauts make emergency landing

Cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague at the pre-launch ceremony in Kazakhstan

For years, since NASA's final shuttle mission launched in 2011, the US has relied on Russian rockets to send astronauts to the International Space Station, which is largely funded by America taxpayer dollars.

A view shows the Soyuz capsule transporting USA 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.

The rare failed launch of the Soyuz rocket is the latest and most grave problem to beset U.S.

American astronaut Nick Hague (right) and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin speak before taking off aboard a Soyuz MS-10 capsule to the International Space Station, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on October 11, 2018.

Search and rescue crews retrieved the crew, returning them to Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, members of the International Space Station expedition 57/58, board the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft prior to launch.

Bridenstine, speaking to reporters in Moscow, also said he was confident that a planned Soyuz launch in December, which is due to transport three people, including one American, to the $100 billion orbital research laboratory, would happen. "A collision occurred during the separation of the first and second stages", said Sergei Krikalyov, Roscosmos Executive Director for Manned Flights via a report that appeared on TASS. "Today showed again what an awesome vehicle the Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure". It's not yet clear where the rocket touched down. It was also possible that the first stage parts had failed to separate properly, he said.

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Russian space officials said Hague and Rogozin will spend a couple of days at Star City, Russia's main space training center outside Moscow, undergoing routine medical checks. A state commission has been established to investigate the incident. Preliminary findings are expected later this month.

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield told Euronews the three people now on the station (Alexander Gerst, Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev) are essentially stuck there until a spaceship can be launched to get them.

"He's supremely ready to go, and he'll go as soon as the rocket's ready", Hadfield said. Ovchinin, the Russian cosmonaut, can be heard saying, "That was a quick flight". Photos released by Roscomos showed them walking down a staircase from a Roscosmos plane. Space is one of the few areas where the United States and Russia are still actively collaborating, but recent events are putting into question the Russian space industry's capacity to meet today's rigorous standards. The leak was quickly repaired, but Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin suggested that the leak was caused by something other than an accident or production defect.

"The guys will definitely fly".

The launch failure raises questions about the continued reliability of Russia's Soyuz launch system, which lost a cargo spacecraft at the end of 2016 and sent a Soyuz capsule with a hole in it to the ISS earlier this year. The accident comes weeks after a hole was discovered in the International Space Station amid talk from the Russian space authorities of deliberate sabotage.

Four helicopters have taken off from Kazakh bases to search for the Soyuz crew, according to RIA news agency citing local officials.

Russia's TASS news agency said the capsule carrying the two men separated from the troubled rocket safely. On Thursday, Russia's Investigative Committee, the equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said it had opened a criminal probe to examine whether there had been any violations in the construction of the failed Soyuz rocket. NASA is planning to replace it with commercial partners, including SpaceX, but that remains in the works.

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