NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine has released a statement about today's (Oct. 11) failed Soyuz crew launch to the International Space Station, which resulted in an emergency ballistic landing shortly after liftoff for the U.S. astronaut and Russian cosmonaut aboard.
In the statement, Bridenstine emphasized the importance of crew safety during launches and confirmed that there would be a formal investigation into today's anomaly. "NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are in good condition following today's aborted launch. I'm grateful that everyone is safe. A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted," the administrator posted to his Twitter account.
Bridenstine was on the ground at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to watch today's launch, the first time he has been on site as NASA administrator. He spoke to Hague and Ovchinin after they were suited up through a glass panel that ensures the astronauts remain in quarantine before their launch. Shortly after the conversation, the two astronauts headed to the launch pad to board the Soyuz capsule and rocket. [In Photos: The Harrowing Soyuz Launch Abort in Pictures]
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, was also at the astronauts' departure to wish Hague and Ovchinin well before launch. The two space agency heads met in person for the first time this week.
That meeting comes in the midst of a continuing investigation by Roscosmos into a small air leak detected on a Soyuz capsule docked to the International Space Station in August, which was quickly patched and never posed a threat to the astronauts on board. Rogozin and Bridenstine have independently confirmed that today's launch failure will also be formally investigated.
In addition to Bridenstine's comment, the NASA chief also released a full agency statement:
"The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 4:40 a.m. EDT Thursday, October 11 (2:40 p.m. in Baikonur) carrying American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft.
"Search and rescue teams were deployed to the landing site. Hague and Ovchinin are out of the capsule and are reported to be in good condition. They will be transported to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia outside of Moscow.
"NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully. NASA is working closely with Roscosmos to ensure the safe return of the crew. Safety of the crew is the utmost priority for NASA. A thorough investigation into the cause of the incident will be conducted."