NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin barely escaped tragedy after the Soyuz MS-10 rocket that was supposed to ferry them to the International Space Station (ISS) developed a mechanical failure on October 11. The capsule shook violently and then separated from the rocket booster and shot to the side. It then deployed its parachute and landed safely in Kazakhstan.
But this incident has trapped 3 astronauts orbiting the Earth aboard the ISS. According to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, they are “essentially marooned” on the station for a while as Russia has suspended all manned missions between the ISS and Earth while they investigate the cause of the accident. They don’t plan to perform another mission before summer. And the only other country currently capable of carrying out manned missions is China but they too won’t carry out the next mission before 2020.
The astronauts only have supplies for the next 6 months.
With the crew being stranded, the ISS program is in serious trouble. In August, the astronauts detected a leak aboard a Soyuz capsule docked at the station. Through it was minor and they fixed it immediately (even temporarily blocking the hole using their thumb), the incident has caused many to have serious doubts over the station’s durability.