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Crew of Soyuz rocket survive emergency landing after engine problem

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The two-man crew of a Soyuz rocket made a successful emergency landing Thursday after an engine problem on lift-off to the International Space Station, in a major setback for the beleaguered Russian space industry.

US astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were rescued without injuries in Kazakhstan.

“The emergency rescue system worked, the vessel was able to land in Kazakhstan… the crew are alive,” the Russian space agency Roscosmos said in a tweet.

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The pair are in contact with ground control, the space agency said.

Over the past few years the Russian space industry has suffered a series of problems including the loss of a number of satellites and other spacecraft.

The rocket was launched was from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0840 GMT.

“The launch had a problem with the booster (rocket) a few seconds after the first stage separation and we can confirm now that the crew has started to go into ballistic descent mode,” the voiceover on a NASA livestream from mission control in Houston said.

The NASA commentator later said the crew was in good condition and communicating with rescue workers after landing east of the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan.

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The descent was sharper than usual meaning the crew was subjected to a greater G-force, but they have been prepared for this scenario in training, the commentator said.

A source in the Russian space agency told AFP that rescue workers had reached the crew.

– ‘Thank God’ –

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The Kremlin confirmed the men had survived. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists: “Thank God the cosmonauts are alive”.

Roscosmos’s online stream of the launch cut out shortly after lift-off.

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Former military pilots Ovchinin and Hague were set to join Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency, NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos following a six-hour flight.

The International Space Station — a rare point of cooperation between Moscow and Washington — has been orbiting the Earth at roughly 28,000 kilometres per hour since 1998 and will mark its 20th birthday in November.

Hague was born in the same year the United States and the Soviet Union launched their first joint space mission, the Apollo-Soyuz, or Soyuz-Apollo mission in 1975.

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Dmitry Rogozin, a firebrand nationalist politician who this year was appointed by President Vladimir Putin to head Roscosmos, said on Twitter he had ordered a state commission to probe the accident.

Rogozin was flying to the scene of the emergency landing, the space agency said.

© 2018 AFP

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Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

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GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

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White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

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