Astronauts blast off to International Space Station in Russian-made Soyuz rocket

Rodiano Bonacci
Dicembre 5, 2018

Almost two months after a rocket malfunction forced NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos to abort the launch of a Soyuz mission, a new crew blasted off on Monday for the International Space Station and arrived safe and sound.

Three astronauts successfully blasted off Monday to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan, a ideal launch that follows October's aborted mission.

The Soyuz was "successfully launched into orbit", Roscosmos wrote on Twitter.

NASA's Anne McClain, Russia's Oleg Kononenko, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques - reached orbit about 10 minutes after taking off from Kazakhstan on the Soyuz MS-11 rocket.

The trio will be flying in the same kind of Soyuz launch craft and FG rocket booster that crashed at Baikonur in October, almost costing the lives of Russian commander Alexei Ovchinin and Nasa astronaut Nick Hague.

The astronauts were the first sent to be sent to the space station since a crewed Soyuz launch was aborted in October after a booster rocket failed to separate properly, crippling the rocket.

The United States has been relying on its services since 2001 after the space shuttle program shut down.

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-11 space ship blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome Kazakhstan on Monday
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-11 space ship blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome Kazakhstan on Monday

McClain, Saint-Jacques, and Kononenkoof before launch.

"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board", the 54-year-old said.

The launch, which took place from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as the sun was setting, was the first crewed launch since an anomaly during booster separation sent two astronauts falling back to Earth in an emergency landing on October 11.

While flight commander Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission to add to an impressive 533 days in space, both Saint-Jacques and McClain are making their maiden trip.

The crew will now check for leaks in their craft before opening the hatches to their new home for the next six months.

She has said that training to spacewalk resembled the sport since it demands "grit, toughness, mental focus, and more". But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have increasingly raised eyebrows. In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites.

Astronaut Hague and cosmonaut Ovchinin will once again attempt to join the ISS crew on February 28, 2019, alongside Christina Hammock Koch.

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