American astronaut Nick Hague (right) and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin speak before taking off aboard a Soyuz MS-10 capsule to the International Space Station, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on October 11, 2018.
US astronaut Nick Hague, right and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), speak prior to the launch of Soyuz MS-10 space ship at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018.
Gerst tweeted his relief that the two astronauts were safe, saying the day's events "showed again what an unbelievable vehicle the Soyuz is, to be able to save the crew from such a failure".
The emergency occurred as the first and second stages of a booster rocket separated shortly after launch from Kazakhstan's Soviet-era cosmodrome of Baikonur.
The launch failure marks an unprecedented mishap for the Russian space program, which has been dogged by a string of launch failures and other incidents in recent years.
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.
For now, the United States relies on Moscow to carry its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) which was launched 20 years ago.
Search and rescue forces were scrambled from Baikonur Cosmodrome to the expected landing site, a journey of roughly one and a half hours.
The rocket took off from Kazakhstan and was on its way to the International Space Station. In 2015, CRS-7 launched a Dragon capsule on a Falcon 9 rocket to resupply the space station, but the second stage exploded. Roscosmos, the Russian firm that operates the nation's space agency and is responsible for Soyuz launches, will not hold any news conferences today. But something went wrong minutes after liftoff, sending the Soyuz capsule into a ballistic re-entry, NASA officials said.
Both are reported in good condition.
The future of the International Space Station is uncertain now, however, because this Russian rocket was the only way to get people to the station - and now it's under investigation.
Here's the latest on the failed space launch carrying two astronauts (all times local to Kazakhstan).
He said all manned launches will be suspended pending an investigation into the cause of the failure. NASA says it selected him as an astronaut in 2013; he completed training in 2015 and had been scheduled to perform at least two spacewalks as part of his mission on the space station.
One of the pictures showed Hague smiling and another had him sitting next to Russia's space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin. In August, a hole appeared in a Soyuz capsule already docked to the ISS that caused a brief loss of air pressure and had to be patched. He didn't say if he suspected any of the current crew of three Americans, two Russians and a German aboard the station.