Russian Soyuz rocket suffers rare last-minute abort during launch of 3 astronauts to ISS

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A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying three astronauts bound for the International Space Station experienced a rare abort on the launch pad on Thursday (March 21) while the crew waited expectantly inside their spacecraft.

The abort occurred just 21 seconds before the Soyuz rocket was to launch NASA astronaut Tracey Caldwell Dyson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and spaceflight participant Marina Vasilevskaya of Belarus to the International Space Station (ISS) from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Liftoff was scheduled for 9:21 a.m. EDT (1321 GMT). 

“The Soyuz launch to the space station has been aborted,” NASA spokesperson Rob Navias said during live commentary. “So, no visitors to the International Space Station today. The next opportunity to launch, pending resolution of what happened today, would be Saturday morning,” he added.

“No reason has yet been given for the abort,” Navias said.

Related: International Space Station — Everything you need to know

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying the three Soyuz MS-25 astronauts of Expedition 71 is seen on the launch pad on March 21, 2024, ahead of a last-minute abort that occurred at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Navias said the abort was triggered by an automatic system shortly before engine ignition; two umbilical connections were retracted away from the rocket ahead of the planned launch. Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, sent engineers to the launch pad shortly after the abort to make sure the vehicle was safe and crew could be extracted.



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