Canadian astronaut describes what went wrong with Soyuz rocket failure

Canadian astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield (Ret.) on Friday described what happened in a rocket failure this year with a Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut, and the safety protocol they followed during the malfunction. 

"There is no more focused moment in a human existence than an astronaut watching the rocketship during launch," Hadfield told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton and Krystal Ball on "Rising." 

"Then suddenly they felt something weird, the vibration, the huge lateral motions. It's like if you're driving a car down the highway and suddenly the whole thing starts shaking. You know things aren't going to get better," he continued. 

Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin reported a malfunction in their Soyuz rocket on Thursday shortly after launching from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and were forced to make an emergency landing while en route to the International Space Station. 

"They watched it, they recognized it, they diagnosed the problem," Hadfield said. "They immediately jumped into what their years and years of training had taught them."

Hadfield, who is the first Canadian to walk in space, said the Soyuz rocket is normally very safe, but needed to be updated like all other pieces of technology. 

"The Soyuz has flown over 1,700 times, that rocket. It's hugely experienced. It's been extremely safe, but all machines eventually break," he said. 

"It's gotten better over time. They had an abort back in 1975. The crew was squished by 23G on the way home. They had one explode on the pad in 1983, but the crew survived that one as well. So even though occasionally rocket failures happen, it's a really robust system, and it proved itself again yesterday," he continued. 

— Julia Manchester