"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.
But around two minutes into the voyage, as the rocket was tearing through space at about 4,700 miles (7,563 kilometres) per hour, three short beeps were heard -- indicating an emergency situation.
An "anomaly" with the booster led to the launch being aborted, NASA later said.
"We're tightening our seatbelts," Ovchinin said on the video.
Cosmonauts and astronauts are put through gruelling training, including exercises involving weightlessness and centrifugal force that prepare them to control their reactions in real-life scenarios.
The two men returned to earth safely and a picture released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos showed them having their blood pressure taken in a Kazakh city near their landing site.
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