Soyuz MS-10 In-Flight Launch Abort

Images & video credit: NASA/ESA/Russian Defense Ministry.

On Thursday, October 11, 2018 at 04:40 EDT (08:40 UTC) a Soyuz-FG rocket; MS-10 (ISS 56S or Soyuz 58) lifted off from Launch Pad 1/Launcher 5 (LC 1/5) at the legendary Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan carrying two crew members of Expedition 57/58 (Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin) on what was to be a four-orbit, six-hour “fast track” trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

Roughly 2 minutes into flight, at an altitude of 58 km (36 mi.), 71 km (44 mi.) downrange and traveling at a speed of 1,848 m/s (6653 kph or 4134 mph) and during booster separation, the vehicle experienced an anomaly yet to be determined and partially broke apart in flight. This action resulted in an obvious in-flight abort of the mission and a ballistic (steeper than nominal) reentry. The launch escape tower was already jettisoned though MS-10’s thrusters and parachutes worked as designed and the crew landed safely near Dzhezkazgan, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) northeast of Baikonur, Kazakhstan. It took rescue crews about 90 minutes to reach the crew location and when located they were already out of the spacecraft unharmed.

Russian Defense Ministry image of Soyuz MS-10 after landing.

As Station was flying overhead just before launch, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut German, Alexander Gerst imaged the launch from orbit.

The last Soyuz abort was Soyuz T-10A pad abort on September 26, 1983 with cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov being fired to safety via the launch escape tower. The most recent in-flight abort for a Soyuz was Soyuz 18A on April 5, 1975 with cosmonauts Vasily Lazarev and Oleg Makarov aborted when their second stage hadn’t detached from the third stage when it began firing. Soyuz’s thrusters were needed for this abort as the launch escape tower was already jettisoned. Though aborted, they broke the Karman line which classifies this as a suborbital spaceflight.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague Twitter:

Nick Hague Instagram:

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