Soyuz rocket: First astronauts to launch since October failure


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. They should reach the International Space Station by noon.

Gerst, who tweeted in anticipation of the new trio's arrival early Monday, could see the launch from the ISS because the space station was in orbit directly over Kazakhstan at the time. McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko will now complete a six-month mission aboard the ISS, where they will complete experiments and test new technologies.

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 International Space Station (ISS) on schedule today at 11.30am GMT.

If for some reason Russian Federation couldn't have resumed crewed flights on a timely basis, the space station's managers would have faced a hard choice over whether to leave the space station unoccupied for a time.

The astronauts are slated to stay on the ISS until July 2019.

Soyuz rocket: First astronauts to launch since October failure
Soyuz rocket: First astronauts to launch since October failure

At a press conference on the eve of the launch, crew commander Kononenko said the astronauts "absolutely" trusted teams preparing for the flight.

It was the first manned mission for Russia since October, when NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin were forced to make an emergency landing shortly after launch following a rocket malfunction.

Less than two minutes into that flight, one of the rocket's four external boosters failed to separate and accidentally struck the core stage of the rocket, sending it spinning out of control.

The International Space Station offers an unbelievably cool perspective on rocket launches, as European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst proved with three incredible photographs of a crewed Soyuz rocket that lifted off today (Dec. 3).

October's accident had 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.

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