Reuters Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin (R) and USA astronaut Nick Hague (L) disembark from a plane, after the Soyuz spacecraft made an emergency landing following a failure of its booster rockets, as they arrive at Baikonur airport, Kazakhstan, Oct. 11, 2018.
Video footage from the launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome shows a large plume of smoke coming from the rocket at the moment it failed and footage from inside the capsule shows the two astronauts being violently shaken about.
The pair lifted off as scheduled at 2.40pm local time from the Baikonur cosmodrome on a Soyuz booster rocket.
Shortly before this writing, NASA published a statement that gave us further insight into what went wrong and the rescue mission that ensured Ovchinin and Hague were safe.
However, Thursday's incident was the first manned launch failure since 1983 when a Soyuz rocket exploded in the launch area.
Hague was born in the same year the United States and the Soviet Union launched their first joint space mission, the Apollo-Soyuz, or Soyuz-Apollo mission in 1975.
This failure raises serious questions about the future of the International Space Station, as since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011 the Soyuz spacecraft and rocket were the only means by which crews have had to reach it.
In Thursday's emergency, Hague and Ovchinin experienced G-forces six to seven times Earth's gravity, Reid Wiseman, NASA's deputy chief astronaut, told reporters Thursday at a press briefing.
The descent profile for a ballistic descent is significantly steeper than the trajectory taken by astronauts returning from the space station under normal conditions. The launch was proceeding normally until the first mention of booster failure at about the 3:30 mark. That mission will now be postponed until early next year, space officials said.
Russian Soyuz are now the only vehicle used to carry astronauts to the orbiting Space Station, after the US retired its space shuttle fleet.
The first recorded instance of a launch escape maneuver came in 1975, when Soyuz 18-1 took off for the Salyut 4 space station. Despite its age, the Soyuz platform has been an extremely reliable mode of transportation to space.
The Russian Soyuz MS-09 crew craft and the Northrop Grumman Cygnus space freighter attached to the International Space Station.
Glitches found in Russia's Proton and Soyuz rockets in 2016 were traced to manufacturing flaws at the plant in Voronezh. The Soyuz capsule has landed back on Earth carrying two crew members.