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'That was a short flight': crew of failed rocket keeps cool

RFI 2018-10-11 19:09:51
NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin board the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft prior to the launch that tested their training when nearly three minutes into the flight it had to be aborted POOL/AFP

Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin retained an enviable sang-froid Thursday as he realised while travelling at thousands of miles an hour that his spacecraft would have to make an emergency landing.

"An accident with the booster, 2 minutes, 45 seconds. That was a quick flight," he said in a calm voice in a streamed video of the incident.

Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague had blasted off on a Soyuz rocket to the International Space Station from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

But around two minutes into the voyage, as the rocket was tearing through space at about 4,700 miles (7,563 kilometres) per hour, three short beeps were heard -- indicating an emergency situation.

An "anomaly" with the booster led to the launch being aborted, NASA later said.

"We're tightening our seatbelts," Ovchinin said on the video.

Cosmonauts and astronauts are put through gruelling training, including exercises involving weightlessness and centrifugal force that prepare them to control their reactions in real-life scenarios.

The two men returned to earth safely and a picture released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos showed them having their blood pressure taken in a Kazakh city near their landing site.