Even though we have been doing it for six decades, space travel is still a dangerous and difficult task.
This week, two astronauts – Nick Hague from the United States and Alexey Ovchinin from Russia – were set to launch on a fairly routine trip to the International Space Station. Minutes after launch, their Soyuz-FG rocket experienced a serious failure. This led to an automated ejection of the capsule and, thankfully, their safe return to Earth.
This model of rocket, the Soyuz-FG, has been in use since 2001 and currently is the only spacecraft certified to carry humans. The exact issue is still be investigated, but potentially was caused during booster separation where the boosters which take the rocket into Earth’s upper atmosphere separate from the capsule where the crew resides.
Hague and Ovchinin were scheduled to join three astronauts already on board the International Space station, and currently there are no plans for when the next launch could happen while investigations are underway. Astronauts on board the ISS return to Earth in the same capsule they arrived in, so the astronauts currently on board will not be stranded but will have to wait a while longer for the next members to join the crew.
Interested in learning more about this topic? We're covering it throughout the weekend in our all-live planetarium show, Wonders of the Night Sky, playing in the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere. A portion is always set aside for breaking space news stories. Click here to see our full list of shows.