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Soyuz capsule that saved crew from tumbling rocket is turned into monument

The capsule of the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft that saved the lives of its crew, when the rocket carrying it into orbit was damaged and blew up, has been turned into a monument to ingenuity at the HQ of Russia’s space agency.

The October 2018 launch failure was the first and only major incident in Russia’s modern history involving a manned space mission. One of the four first stage boosters of the Souyz-FG rocket failed to jettison properly and ruptured the vehicle’s central block, steering it off course. A contingency abort was initiated. The capsule carrying Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague was successfully deployed before the launch vehicle was fully destroyed, and landed with both crew members unharmed.

Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague at the opening ceremony. ©Sputnik / Valery Melnikov

The piece of equipment that proved the full value of engineering invested in the Soyuz spacecraft was put on display on Monday at Roscosmos’ office in Moscow as a reminder of a day that didn’t end in tragedy. It was placed on a granite-decorated foundation and includes a plaque that describes what happened with the mission.

Both Ovchinin and Hague attended the ceremony. The US astronaut was also awarded the Order of Courage, a Russian state decoration reserved for individuals demonstrating selfless courage. Hague, a foreign national, qualified for the merit because he kept calm and did his part in rescuing a fellow crewmember.

“Nick, you deserve to get this decoration,” Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin told the American guest as he pinned the order’s symbol to his uniform.

Both space explorers got their chance to go to the International Space Station in March this year, travelling on the Soyuz MS-12. The rocket that carried them was another Souyz-FG, which worked just as good as the 68 others that have launched successfully over two decades. The failure last year was the only one for the launch vehicle type before its retirement in September.