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US, Russian astronauts safe after emergency landing

| Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, 7:12 a.m.
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-10 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, flies in the sky at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. The two astronauts are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-10 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, flies in the sky at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. The two astronauts are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague, right, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Yuri Kochetkov, Pool Photo via AP)
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague, right, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Yuri Kochetkov, Pool Photo via AP)
Smoke rise as the boosters of first stage of the Soyuz-FG rocket with Soyuz MS-10 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, separate after the launch at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. The two astronauts are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
Smoke rise as the boosters of first stage of the Soyuz-FG rocket with Soyuz MS-10 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, separate after the launch at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. The two astronauts are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-10 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, flies in the sky at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. The two astronauts are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-10 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, flies in the sky at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. The two astronauts are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague, crew member of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, boards the rocket prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Yuri Kochetkov, Pool)
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague, crew member of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, boards the rocket prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Yuri Kochetkov, Pool)
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague, right, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, wave as they board to the rocket prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Yuri Kochetkov, Pool Photo via AP)
U.S. astronaut Nick Hague, right, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, wave as they board to the rocket prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. (Yuri Kochetkov, Pool Photo via AP)

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan — Two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia were safe after an emergency landing Thursday in the steppes of Kazakhstan following the failure of a Russian booster rocket carrying them to the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket. Roscosmos and NASA said the three-stage Soyuz booster suffered an emergency shutdown of its second stage. The capsule jettisoned from the booster and went into a ballistic descent, landing at a sharper than normal angle.

The launch failure marks an unprecedented mishap for the Russian space program, which has been dogged by a string of launch failures and other incidents.

“Thank God, the crew is alive,” Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters when it became clear that the crew had landed safely.

They were to dock at the orbiting outpost six hours later, but the booster suffered a failure minutes after the launch.

NASA and Russian Roscosmos space agency said the astronauts were in good condition after their capsule landed about 20 kilometers (12 miles) east of the city of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.

Search and rescue teams were heading to the area to recover the crew. Dzhezkazgan is about 450 kilometers (280 miles) northeast of Baikonur. Spacecraft returning from the ISS normally land in that region.

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