Russian Spacecraft Launch Aborted

Russian Spacecraft Launch Aborted
Russian Spacecraft Launch Aborted

The launch of a Russian spacecraft to the International Space Station was aborted at the last minute, in another high-profile setback for Russia's space programme.

The Russian Soyuz MS-25 mission was due to take off from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan, carrying three astronauts from Russia, the United States and Belarus.

But the launch was canceled just seconds before the scheduled blast-off at 4:21 pm Moscow-time, when engines didn't fire up as the crew were strapped in and counting down.

"Attention at the launch complex. There was an automatic launch cancellation. Bring the units of the launch complex to the initial state," the flight controller said in a live broadcast by Russia's space agency Roscosmos.

A separate NASA broadcast of the planned launch said it was aborted 20 seconds before take-off.

"This is Mission Control Houston. To recap: today's launch of Soyuz MS-25 was aborted at about the T minus 20 second mark," the announcer said.

Russia had devoted the mission to Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, who would have turned 90 this month.

Moscow's once pioneering space programme has faced multiple setbacks since it won the first leg of the space race more than 60 years ago.

The programme has suffered since the collapse of the USSR, including with the loss of its first lunar probe in almost 50 years last August.

The Russian segment of the ISS also suffered three coolant leaks in under a year, spraying flakes of frozen coolant into space on multiple occasions in 2023.

Roscosmos said the crew were safe and were being extracted from the spacecraft after the failed launch.

Space is one of the final areas of US-Russia cooperation amid an almost complete breakdown in relations between Moscow and Washington over the last two years.

But Russia has said it plans to ditch the ISS and build its own space station.