Astronauts who survived Soyuz breakdown blast off to ISS

Soyuz rocket launch 14 March 2019Image copyright

Image caption

The rocket launched at 01:14 on Friday local time

Two astronauts who survived a failed Soyuz launch last year are now on their way to the International Space Station.

Nasa’s Nick Hague and his Russian colleague Alexey Ovchinin were on the rocket when it malfunctioned in mid-air on 11 October.

The two men are now flying with US astronaut Christina Koch after a successful lift-off from the Russian Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz MS-12 launched at 01:14 on Friday local time (19:14 GMT Thursday).

This is Mr Hague and Mr Ovchinin’s first flight since the aborted launch last October.

That time, the rocket was forced to make an emergency landing two minutes after take-off because a sensor had been damaged while it was being built.

Image copyright

Image caption

Nick Hague (top), Christina Koch and Alexey Ovchinin waved as they boarded the Soyuz MS-12

Live footage showed the men being shaken violently by the vibrating rocket as it broke down while flying. Then, the rocket’s emergency escape system was triggered and the crew capsule detached from the rest of the spacecraft.

It landed hundreds of kilometres north-east of the Baikanour launch site, sparking a major rescue mission. Both men were unharmed.

  • Russia’s Soyuz aims to erase space failures
  • Investigation into dramatic Soyuz breakdown

Mr Ovchinin, 47, told reporters before the latest launch that the rocket was now in good shape, although a small fault had been discovered during its final checks on Tuesday. As a result, some components had needed to be replaced.

“There are no problems,” he told reporters.

Mr Hague, 43, added that he was “100% confident in the rocket and the spaceship”.

Another Soyuz rocket successfully launched and docked on the ISS in December, the first crewed launch since the failed mission.