Russian Soyuz rocket successfully launches three astronauts to ISS

Christopher Davidson
December 5, 2018

It's the first time a crewed Soyuz rocket successfully made it to space following an aborted mission on October 11, where two space travelers were forced to perform an emergency landing after a deformed sensor caused issues.

McClain, Saint-Jacques, and Kononenkoof are expected to live and work on the station for about 6.5 months.

The launch came less than two months after a booster failure forced a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and USA astronaut Nick Hague to make an emergency landing.

They escaped unharmed but the failed launch was the first such incident in Russia's post-Soviet history and a new setback for the country's once proud space industry.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is now the only organisation transporting astronauts to the ISS after Nasa ended its space shuttle flights in 2011.

Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques showed no signs of worry as they boarded a bus yesterday to take them to the launch.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos docked with the station at 11:33 p.m. (1733 GMT; 12:33 p.m. EST) Monday while flying over 250 miles (400 kilometers) above Ecuador.

Crew commander Mr Kononenko said: "Risk is part of our profession". "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur onboard".

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McClain, a 39-year-old former military pilot, said the crew looked forward to going up. "We feel very ready for it", she said.

Canada's Saint-Jacques added that Soyuz spacecraft was "incredibly safe", noting it was "actually reassuring" to witness the October aborted launch from Baikonur.

Since the mishap, four successful unmanned Soyuz satellite launches have been conducted.

The ISS space laboratory has been orbiting the Earth at roughly 28,000 kilometres per hour since 1998.

The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief Monday after observing the flawless launch, with October's rocket failure still on the minds of many.

Saint-Jacques will be the first Canadian resident of the International Space Station since Chris Hadfield, who was on a five-month mission that ended in May 2013.

Russian Federation suspended all manned space launches pending an investigation before giving the green light November 1. But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have increasingly raised eyebrows.

Next year, however, Russian Federation will see intense global competition.

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