A Reuters reporter who observed the launch from around less than one mile away said it had gone smoothly in its initial stages and that the failure of the booster rocket must have occurred at higher altitude. "And it can absolutely humble you".
Thursday's aborted launch took place in the presence of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine who was visiting Russian Federation and Baikonur this week. They will spend the night in Baikonur before being flown to Star City, Russia's space training center outside Moscow.
Veteran cosmonaut Krikalyov said that "in theory" the ISS could remain unmanned but added Russian Federation would do "everything possible not to let this happen". Hague and Ovchinin are out of the capsule and are reported to be in good condition. But it will need to be staffed before SpaceX or Boeing launches its crew capsules next year, Todd said.
"We have plenty of supplies on board the station to support the crew and they're going to continue to do work", NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries told Space.com. Parachutes helped slow the returning capsule.
They all were scheduled to return to Earth in mid-December, but may have to stay aboard the station longer.
Russian rockets have been the only means of bringing crew to the International Space Station since the United States retired its Space Shuttle programme in 2011, although Nasa has announced plans for a test flight carrying two astronauts on a SpaceX commercial rocket in April next year. Thursday's accident led NASA officials to acknowledge that they and their partners might need to bring everyone home and hope that the station can function safely with no one onboard, relying exclusively on commands from the ground.
Flight controllers kept the three space station residents informed, assuring them, "The boys have landed".
Meanwhile, Jim Bridenstine, the chief of US space agency NASA, praised the Russian space program and said he also expected a new crew to go to the ISS in December despite the incident.
On Friday, the executive director of Russia's space agency, Roscomos, said the immediate cause of the booster failure was "clear".
NASA, the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and the International Space Station control team still have a whole lot of decisions to make about what to do next - not to mention an investigation to conduct into what went wrong.
Two astronauts from the US and Russia are making an emergency landing after a Russian booster rocket carrying them into orbit to the International Space Station has failed after launch. The astronauts were to dock at the space station six hours after the launch and join an American, a Russian and a German on board.
Given that the space station is a $100 billion asset, he said, it needs to have someone on board for the arrival of the first commercial manned missions, for safety reasons.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote, but they have maintained cooperation in space research.
They landed about 20 km east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, where rescue crews were scrambled to find them. "The investigation is ongoing, Russian Federation has been very supportive of sharing data with the United States and we're grateful for that". However, the two sides have continued their cooperation in space.
Russian Federation now operates the only spacecraft for ferrying crews to the station following the retirement of the US space shuttle fleet, but it stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of commercial USA crew capsules - SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner.
Sending astronauts to the ISS will be a first for a privately owned company.
The malfunction could cause trouble for NASA as the agency is waiting for both Boeing and SpaceX to deliver homegrown spacecraft so it no longer has to rely on Russian Federation to send supplies and crew to the ISS.
The Kremlin said experts were working to determine what caused the rocket failure. 'The emergency rescue systems of the MS-Soyuz spacecraft worked smoothly.
"That was a quick flight", Ovchinin said calmly during the emergency landing.
Thursday's accident was the first serious launch problem experienced by a manned Soyuz space mission since 1983, when the crew narrowly escaped before an explosion on the launchpad.