Russian Soyuz rocket malfunctions, makes emergency landing

They will blast off atop the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft Thursday at 4:40 a.m. EDT for a six-hour ride to their new home in space.

Two astronauts from the USA and Russia are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch.

NASA and Roscosmos said search-and-rescue teams were in contact with the crew and en route to the landing location. Robotic cargo launches using USA -built resupply ships are also scheduled to deliver more supplies to the station in the next two months.

The problem occurred when a booster rocket on the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle, launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur in the central Asian country, failed in some way, NASA said.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the NASA team are monitoring the situation carefully.

Currently, the Russian's Soyuz rocket is the only system in the world that can carry human crew members up to the ISS, and return them safely home afterward. Search and rescue crews are getting ready to reach the expected landing site.

Earlier this week, Bridenstine emphasized that collaboration with Russia's Roscosmos remains important.

Russian Federation was forming a state commission to investigate the Soyuz launch incident, Nasa said.

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 USA presidential vote, but Russia and the US have maintained cooperation in space.

With the failure of this launch, there are far-reaching consequences for the world's human space programs, and for those astronauts and cosmonauts now on board the International Space Station.

Russian Soyuz are now the only vehicle used to carry astronauts to the orbiting Space Station, after the USA retired its space shuttle fleet. Roscosmos sent more than 70 rocket engines back to production lines to replace faulty components, a move that resulted in a yearlong break in Proton launches and badly dented Russia's niche in the global market for commercial satellite launches. Officials are also investigating the odd hole recently found in a Soyuz spacecraft aboard the International Space Station.

SpaceX plans to launch an uncrewed test flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft by January, but could be ready to launch in December depending on NASA's needs, the company has said.

Nasa says a booster failure forced the two crew to return to return to Earth in a "ballistic descent mode" - a sharper angle of landing compared to normal that put the pair under higher G-forces than normal.