BFF-71 ‘Concrete block on your chest’: Russian cosmonaut recounts failed space launch

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‘Concrete block on your chest’: Russian cosmonaut recounts failed space
launch

MOSCOW, Oct 16, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin on
Tuesday said the G-force during last week’s emergency landing of the Soyuz
spacecraft felt like a concrete block on his chest but he and NASA astronaut
Nick Hague are now in “great” health.

Ovchinin and Hague were forced to make an emergency landing after an
accident on their rocket minutes after blast-off to the International Space
Station, with the rapid deceleration subjecting them to a painful G-force
overload.

In an interview with state Rossiya-24 television, Ovchinin said that “the
direction of this (G-force) overload during the descent was from the chest to
the back, so imagine that somebody put a big concrete block on your chest
that is seven times your weight.”

The 47-year-old cosmonaut who has already flown into space once before in
2016, nevertheless said that the G-force was “not that big, a bit less than
7G.”

7G is below what cosmonauts have to withstand during training and has not
caused long-term ill-effects.

“I am feeling well, so is my colleague, US astronaut Nick Hague,” Ovchinin
said.

“The doctors concluded that our health is good, even great.”

Both are now waiting for the results of an investigation into why the Soyuz
rocket malfunctioned and never made it to the International Space Station,
forcing Ovchinin to command a ballistic descent back to Earth amid a
communication breakdown with mission control.

Ovchinin said he and Hague understood something was wrong when emergency
lights came on in the cabin and used their training to get through it.

“For the most part, the rescue system worked automatically, and we just
followed the system,” he said.

In footage of the flight released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos
Ovchinin can be heard calmly telling mission control that there has been an
“accident” and even quipping about a particularly “short flight” before the
feed is cut off.

“There was no time to be nervous, because we had to work,” he said.

“We had to go through the steps that crew has to take and prepare for
emergency landing… so that the crew is still functioning after landing.”

NASA’s Hague has already flown back to the United States following the
landing, after undergoing a medical check and being questioned about the
accident.

BSS/AFP/MRI/2154 HRS