Rocket launch to ISS goes bad

It is good to see safety protocols have been improved for space flight.

Two astronauts kept ice cool as their rocket, travelling at thousands of miles an hour, malfunctioned on the edge of space while carrying them to the International Space Station - $#@!pit audio reveals.

Russian Aleksey Ovchinin and American Nick Hague made it back to Earth alive this morning after the booster on their Soyuz rocket malfunctioned at 164,000 feet and the rocket automatically turned back during a dramatic 7G 'ballistic re-entry'.

Ovchinin retained an enviable sang-froid as he realised what was happening after they were rocked violently around in their seats by the force of the booster malfunction.

'An accident with the booster, 2 minutes, 45 seconds. That was a quick flight,' he said in a calm voice in a streamed video of the incident.

'We're tightening our seatbelts,' Ovchinin said on the video.

At that moment the two astronauts were experiencing weightlessness, when in an ordinary launch they should still have been pinned to the back of their seats by the force of the rocket surging upwards at 4,970mph.

Russia says it has opened a criminal investigation and grounded all Soyuz flights. The accident comes weeks after a hole was discovered in the International Space Station amid talk from the Russian space authorities of deliberate sabotage.

Video footage from the launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome shows a large plume of smoke coming from the rocket at the moment it failed and footage from inside the capsule shows the two astronauts being violently shaken about.

The accident bears similarities to the 1986 Challenger disaster when one of its boosters failed at lift-off causing an explosion that killed seven.