Astronauts escape malfunctioning Soyuz rocket

Soyuz-FG rocket booster blasts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome carrying the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft with Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague of the ISS Expedition 57/58 prime crew aboard to the International Space Station (IS

The rocket was launched from the Soviet-era cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

USA 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.

The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the US and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russian Federation blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan October 11, 2018.

Nasa said there was an "issue with the booster" and the "crew is returning to Earth in a ballistic descent mode".

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Search and rescue crews are on their way to the Soyuz capsule, and were likely to reach it by 11.30pm, NZ time.

In 2015, he was selected to participate in a space food taste test, sampling some 160 dishes designed for astronauts and cosmonauts on board the International Space Station.

A Soyuz failure could jeopardize continued operation of the International Space Station.

Search and rescue teams were heading to the area to recover the crew.

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IFAX reported that the two astronauts were alive and were expected to land in Kazakhstan.

It's the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013. The launch appeared to be normal until around first stage separation, when the crew reported a "failure" with the booster and feeling weightlessness.

Ovchinin spent six months on the station in 2016.

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