FILE PHOTO: The International Space Station (ISS) crew member Nick Hague of the U.S. gestures after donning space suits shortly before launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday bestowed a prestigious state award for courage on Nick Hague, the U.S. astronaut who survived a botched space launch last year.
A Russian Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station malfunctioned two minutes after liftoff on Oct. 11, 2018, forcing its two-man crew of Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin to make an emergency landing.
They landed unscathed in the Kazakh steppe after plunging 31 miles (50 km) in a capsule with parachutes slowing their descent.
Almost a year after the accident, Putin awarded Hague the Order of Courage, according to a decree published on a government portal, noting the professionalism he had shown during the rocket failure.
It was not immediately clear whether or when Hague would receive his award at a ceremony.
Russian investigators have said the rocket failure was caused by a sensor that was damaged during assembly at the Soviet-era cosmodrome at Baikonur.
Hague last week returned to Earth having successfully made it to the International Space Station in a repeat launch in March this year.
Reporting by Tom Balmforth; editing by Gareth Jones