NASA, Roscosmos Successfully Launch Soyuz After Aborted Mission

Olive Hawkins
December 4, 2018

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. (1723 GMT; 12:33 p.m. EST) Monday.

Three astronauts who launched into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft have entered the International Space Station after spending almost eight hours in their tiny capsule.

The crew who set off on Monday will spend six-and-a-half months on board the station.

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.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain of Nasa and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian space agency blasted off for a six-and-a-half month mission on the global space station at the expected time of 11.31 GMT (5.01 pm).

The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the United States retired the space shuttle in 2011.

McClain, a 39-year-old former military pilot, said the crew looked forward to going up. It is the first mission since an aborted launch in October.

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"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board", said Kononenko, the 54-year-old crew commander, according to Radio Free Europe.

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.

The accident highlighted the "smart design of the Soyuz and the incredible work that the search and rescue people here on the ground are ready to do every launch", he said.

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.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain (from left), Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency successfully blasted into space on Monday morning.

During their mission, members of the crew are scheduled to embark on a spacewalk to further probe a mysterious hole that caused a loss of air pressure on-board the ISS in August.

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