One second NASA astronaut Nick Hague was on his way to space for the first time, the next he was being violently jostled side-to-side as the Soyuz crew capsule he shared with Russian Cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin abruptly separated from the rocket booster beneath and shot to the side. The dramatic procedure took place automatically as safety systems detected an anomaly with the Russian rocket, triggering the midascent, sideways escape maneuver to clear the crew of the failing booster. Now playing: Watch this: Rocket failure leads to emergency landing 2:46 In his first interviews since surviving the largely uncontrolled “ballistic descent” back to Earth that followed, Hague told reporters on Tuesday that the launch felt normal for the first two minutes but that it became clear “something was wrong pretty quick.” “Your training really takes over,” Hague said, adding that he and Ovchinin had practiced what to do in case of just such a launch-abort scenario. Hague also credited years of flight training, going back to his days as a US Air Force pilot. The escape procedure has been compared to being launched sideways out of a shotgun — but while the shotgun is rocketing upward. Hague described the side-to-side shaking inside the capsule as “fairly aggressive but fleeting.” “I expected my first trip to space to be memorable,” he said. “I didn’t expect it to be quite this memorable.” Because of the combination of rocket-fueled ascent and the sudden sideways escape maneuver, the crew experienced a higher level of… [Read full story]
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