Rocket failure forces astronauts to make emergency landing

Rocket carrying space station crew fails in mid-air, crew forced to make emergency landing

A Soyuz rocket taking an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station on Thursday was hit by an engine problem shortly after lift-off, Russian agencies said. The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft has made an emergency landing.

"Search and rescue teams are en route to the landing location and we await further updates".

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the US and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russian Federation blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan October 11, 2018.

It comes weeks after a hole was discovered in the International Space Station amid talk from the Russian space authorities of deliberate sabotage.

Search and rescue crews are on their way to the Soyuz capsule, and were likely to reach it by 11.30pm, NZ time. The current Soyuz on the ISS, Soyus MS-09, launched in June and has an orbital lifetime of about 200 days.

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The US space agency Nasa said there was an "issue with the booster".

They are set to make an emergency landing in Kazakhstan, with both crew members live and talking to mission control.

For Hague, the aborted launch would have been his first trip into space. Hague and Ovchinin will spend about six months living and working aboard the orbiting lab.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 United States presidential vote, but Russia and the U.S. have maintained cooperation in space.

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