Less than two minutes after the US-Russian crew blasted off on their mission to the ISS, the Russian Soyuz booster rocket failed mid-air. The crew was forced to put their training to the test and make an emergency landing.
Expedition 57 was due to transport Roscosmos’ Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague to the International Space Station in the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft.
But the booster suffered an apparent malfunction some 119 seconds after liftoff, forcing the crew to make a split second decision to separate from the rocket and quickly abort their space odyssey.
The crew, both alive and unharmed, made a dramatic 'ballistic re-entry' in Kazakhstan. Helicopters were scrambled to the touchdown location of the capsule to get the spacemen out as quickly as possible.
The pair were due to deliver cargo and a Russian-made 3D bio-printer with which scientists were planning to grow human organs and tissue in zero gravity.
The crew of the Soyuz spacecraft, forced to make an emergency landing after a rocket malfunction, are alive and well, but who are the two men who braved the high G-forces during their unplanned descent back to earth?
The spacecraft was co-piloted by Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and American astronaut Nick Hague.
Ovchinin, 47, is a major in the Russian Air Force who made his first spaceflight in 2016. He spent 172 days in orbit as part of ISS Expedition 47/48.
In 2015, he was selected to participate in a space food taste test, sampling some 160 dishes designed for astronauts and cosmonauts on board the International Space Station.
For Hague, the aborted launch would have been his first trip into space. The 43-year-old rookie astronaut, who hails from Kansas, is a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force. He attended the US Air Force Academy and the US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Ovchinin attended military pilot school and became a cosmonaut in 2006, after being recommended as a candidate at Russia’s Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center.
Hague was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 2013 and completed training in 2015.
The American astronaut has a wife and two sons. Ovchinin is also married, and has one daughter.