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The Soyuz capsule carrying the two men separated from the malfunctioning rocket and made what NASA called a steep ballistic descent to Earth with parachutes helping to slow its speed. As rescue crews arrived, Hague and Ovchinin were reported in "good condition" and found out of the capsule.

Members of the International Space Station (ISS) expedition 57/58, NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin board the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft prior to the launch in Kazakhstan on October 11, 2018.

NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, pledged a thorough investigation after the aborted launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket.

It comes weeks after a hole was discovered in the International Space Station amid talk from the Russian space authorities of deliberate sabotage. Eleven minutes after liftoff, NASA tweeted that the "crew is returning to Earth in a ballistic descent mode", meaning the spacecraft was falling to Earth without any propulsion. The capsule landed about 20 kilometres east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

Russia, which relies on boosters designed during the Soviet Union, has a reputation for reliability with spacecraft.

The probe would seek to determine whether safety regulations had been violated during construction, leading to massive damage, the statement said. Hague and Ovchinin are being taken from their emergency landing site to Moscow.

The aborted mission dealt another blow to the troubled Russian space program that now serves as the only way to deliver astronauts to the orbiting outpost.

As a result, Russian Federation has launched a criminal investigation into the rocket failure.

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The two astronauts were to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) six hours after the launch to join an American, a Russian and a German now aboard the station.

Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin said he was forming a state commission to investigate what caused the failure.

Hague and Ovchinin would have joined the station's current crew, which includes American astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor.

The capsule's parachute deployed successfully, however, landing them on the grassy steppe about 250 miles from the Baikonur Cosmodrome rented by Russian Federation.

They were set to join the crew of Alexander Gerst, the station's first-ever German commander, as well as USA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev.

In coming years, American aerospace companies SpaceX, with its Dragon 2, and Boeing, with its Starliner, are expected to return to space. That mission will now be postponed until early next year, space officials said.

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


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