Updated March 21st, 2024 at 22:20 IST

Russia Aborts Launch of 3 Astronauts to International Space Station, Says Crew Safe

The launch was reportedly aborted by an automatic safety system 20 seconds before the scheduled liftoff though no exact cause has been given so far.

The International Space Station. | Image:AP
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Moscow: Russia aborted the launch of three astronauts to the International Space Station moments before they were scheduled to lift off Thursday, but the crew was safe, officials said. The Russian Soyuz rocket was to carry NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson, Oleg Novitsky of Roscosmos and Marina Vasilevskaya of Belarus from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.

The launch was aborted by an automatic safety system about 20 seconds before the scheduled liftoff at 1321 GMT. No cause was immediately given, but NASA said the crew was safe and would be extracted quickly from their Soyuz capsule.

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While the crew wasn't in danger, the aborted launch was a significant mishap for the Russian space program.

It followed an October 2018 launch failure, when a Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin to the International Space Station failed two minutes after their launch, sending their rescue capsule into a steep ride back to a safe landing.

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The space station, which has served as a symbol of post-Cold War international cooperation, is now one of the last remaining areas of cooperation between Russia and the West amid tensions over Moscow's military action in Ukraine. NASA and its partners hope to continue operating the orbiting outpost until 2030.

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Published March 21st, 2024 at 22:20 IST