Footage from inside the Soyuz capsule showed the two men being shaken around at the moment the failure occurred, with their arms and legs flailing.
3 minutes, 15 seconds after liftoff from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:47 a.m. EDT, something went wrong with the Soyuz rocket bringing crew members to the International Space Station. Search and rescue teams were immediately scrambled to recover the crew, and paratroopers were dropped from a plane to reach the site quickly.
This morning, the first launch since the possible sabotage was discovered, Russia's Soyuz booster saw its first in-flight failure in recent memory, and the first manned rocket-related emergency in decades.
"The crew is returning to Earth in a ballistic descent mode", wrote NASA, noting that the descent would take place at a steeper angle than usual, but that rescue crews were en route to the expected scene of the landing.
"Thank god, the cosmonauts are alive", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.
It was the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2013.
A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a new U.S.
It's been an interesting couple of months for Russia's space program.
Russian Soyuz are now the only vehicle used to carry astronauts to the orbiting Space Station, after the US retired its space shuttle fleet.
Roscosmos, which oversees the Russian space program, tweeted a photo of Hague and Ovchinin being examined in Zhezkazgan. NASA too is conducting an investigation of its own. Russian space agency Roscosmos has released photographs of both astronauts being checked over after their abrupt landing.
A booster failure during a Soyuz rocket launch forced the two crew members to abort their mission to the International Space Station and return to Earth in the first such emergency landing for the Russian-built spacecraft since 1975.
The Russian Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle for ferrying crews to the space station following the retirement of the USA space shuttle fleet.
Gerst took the opportunity to point out that the Soyuz spacecraft is "an fantastic vehicle", as it was able to save the crew after its booster failure.
Russia says it is suspending manned space launches pending a probe into a Russian booster rocket failure, raising questions about the fate of an upcoming launch that included a Canadian astronaut. However, this could be a problem for the current ISS crew.
Neither the United States nor Russian Federation will be able to send astronauts to the ISS until investigators determine why a Soyuz rocket experienced an anomaly after blastoff Thursday, complicating an already tricky launch calendar for 2019.
The ability of the Russian-American crew to return safely after the latest mishap drew relief from senior Russian officials. The hole cause a small oxygen leak while hooked up to the ISS. Then, a rocket malfunctioned shortly before launch, and the crew vehicle was ejected to safety.