Crew from aborted Soyuz mission to get second chance at ISS mission

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 4, 2018

Stakes were high for Monday's launch, the first to carry a crew since a previous mission to the space station in October was aborted two minutes into the flight after a booster failed to properly separate from the rocket.

NASA's Anne McClain, Russia's Oleg Kononenko, Canada's David Saint-Jacques were aboard the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Monday as part of Expedition 58.

There, they'll meet the European Space Agency's Alexander Gerst, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos' Sergey Prokopyev, the current crew of the ISS who'll use the Soyuz to return to Earth on December 20.

This is the first spaceflight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth trip to the space station for Kononenko. After two hours waiting in their capsule to confirm their ship was firmly docked to the station, they exited the capsule to join three astronauts already aboard the orbiting outpost at 1:37am (1940 GMT; 2:40 pm EST.) The station's current crew of NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst were waiting to greet the newcomers.

The agency said that NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin have been assigned to the crew of Soyuz MS-12, the next crewed mission to the ISS, joining NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch.

It was the first manned launch for the Soviet-era Soyuz since 11 October, when a rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and USA astronaut Nick Hague failed just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make a harrowing emergency landing.

Crew from aborted Soyuz mission to get second chance at ISS mission
Crew from aborted Soyuz mission to get second chance at ISS mission

Russia's space agency Roscosmos has now successfully launched five Soyuz rockets since the incident, and does not believe there is a chance of the failure repeating.

Astronauts from Russian Federation, the USA and Canada left from Kazakhstan on a mission bound for the International Space Station at 17:30 (11:30 GMT).

The crew must wait up to two hours while ground controllers verify that the latches and seals of the space station docking port are holding and that it's safe to pop the hatch and go inside.

The crew repeatedly denied being nervous about flying and insisted the fact that the two-man crew had safely returned to Earth despite the dramatic mishap had demonstrated the reliability of the rocket's safety mechanisms. They managed to emerge safely despite the harrowing ordeal.

A criminal investigation into the failure placed the blame on a sensor which had been damaged during assembly. Blastoff kicked off a 6-hour-, four-orbit-long journey to the space station for the trio of astronauts on board.

The Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle that can ferry crews to the space station, but Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules.

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