Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin are strapped into their Soyuz space craft ready for launch on October 11, 2018. And thankfully for the pair, take-off initially goes to plan. Then, after 90 seconds, the men’s capsule starts to shudder fiercely, while an alarm is also sounding. Something has gone badly wrong – and at this point, neither the astronauts nor ground control know how this is going to end.
The launch of the Russian Soyuz MS-10 space capsule, powered by a Soyuz rocket, was part of International Space Station Expedition 57. The early-morning launch was from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, and the mission had officially started on October 4, 2018, when Soyuz MS-08 had returned three astronauts from the space station back to Earth.
And Hague and Ovchinin were en route to the space station as replacements for those who’d left days earlier. They were to join three others already there: German geophysicist Alexander Gerst, American doctor and engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergei Prokopyev, a Russian commander and flight engineer. The trio had traveled to the space station aboard Soyuz MS-09, arriving on June 8, 2018.