Two Russian and American astronauts had a lucky escape Thursday after the Russian Soyuz rocket that was meant to take them to the International Space Station suffered a malfunction after lift-off, sending their crew capsule hurtling back to earth.
Gerst tweeted his relief that the two astronauts were safe, saying the day's events "showed again what an awesome vehicle the Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure".
Search and rescue teams were dispatched to the landing location and collected the astronauts who made it safely back.
It's been a rough few months for space travel, as yesterday's failure follows another recent incident aboard the International Space Station. "But we have confidence that our Russian colleagues will figure out what's going on and we'll hopefully see Nick and Alexei in orbit at the space station soon", said Kenny Todd, NASA's International Space Station operations integration manager.
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 USA presidential vote, but they have maintained cooperation in space research.
December 1, 2016: A Progress ship carrying food, fuel, air, water and other supplies failed to reach orbit after launching from Russia's space complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Hague and Ovchinin would have joined the station's current crew, which includes American astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor.
Currently, the Russian's Soyuz rocket is the only system in the world that can carry human crew members up to the ISS, and return them safely home afterward.
This morning's mishap is the fourth time in history the Soyuz space program has had to conduct a ballistic reentry into Earth's atmosphere.
Search and rescue teams were heading to the area to recover the crew.
The capsule took 34 minutes to reach the ground after it separated from the faulty rocket, NASA said.
There is no official information on what exactly the problem was, but apparently the booster of the Soyuz failed to detach.
Thursday's failure was the first manned launch failure for the Russian space program since September 1983 when a Soyuz exploded on the launch pad.
Russian Federation has continued to rely on Soviet-designed booster rockets for launching commercial satellites, as well as crews and cargo to the International Space Station. The mission would have been Hague's first space flight.
The Roscosmos Space Agency says it is forming a state commission to investigate the aborted launch. NASA tentatively plans to send its first crew to the ISS using a SpaceX craft instead of a Soyuz next April. Russian space agency Roscosmos has released photographs of both astronauts being checked over after their abrupt landing.
"The crew is alive and is landing in Kazakhstan", Interfax quoted an unnamed source as saying.