I never want to understand the kind of fear that the families of NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin experienced in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
Both crewmembers were aboard a Russian-made Soyuz rocket bound for a six-month stay on the International Space Station when their rocket malfunctioned, forcing an abort of the mission and sending Hague and Ovchinin on an extreme ride back to Earth within the crew capsule.
Hague and Ovchinin are safely back on Earth after the abort, during which they likely experienced the force of seven times Earth’s gravity.
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New photos posted by NASA show relieved family members hugging Hague and Ovchinin after they arrived safely back on solid ground.
Nick Hague of NASA embraces his wife Catie after landing at the Krayniy Airport.
Image: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The failure undoubtedly has major implications for the far future of the space station program, and even in more immediate terms, this will likely change how the station runs for the time being, with two fewer crewmembers than expected.
This mishap could also have major implications for NASA’s plans to get astronaut’s launching from the U.S. again in the next few years.
We can talk all we want about the future of space travel in light of the failure, but at the end of the day, this is a human story about two people who came way too close to dying in space Thursday.
And it just goes to show that even the most seemingly routine rocket launch is never all that routine.
This type of Soyuz rocket has been flying people to space since 2001, and until now, it has never failed, according to Space News . The rocket performed admirably in 55 flights over the course of 17 years.
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