Russian Federation launches astronauts to ISS after botched attempt

Astronauts

Three space travellers, including two astronauts, are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday for a six-and-a-half month mission, the NASA said today.

The launch of the rocket will be observed by the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of NASA's manned flights department, William Gerstenmayer, and the governor-general of Canada, Julie Peyette (former astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency).

NASA confirmed that "the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew are safely in orbit".

David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency gestures as he boards the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft shortly before the launch at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 3, 2018.

On Oct. 11, a rocket failure forced a Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts to abort and make an emergency landing.

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.

Since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011, Russian Soyuz rockets have been the only way to get people to the International Space Station.

"Risk is part of our profession", crew commander Oleg Kononenko told a news conference at Baikonur, adding they "absolutely" trusted teams preparing them for the flight. "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, may occur on board".

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.

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

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.

RFE also quoted McClain, 39, saying: "We feel very ready for it".

Payette, who completed missions to the space station in 1999 and 2009, says the most unsafe moments come immediately following the launch as the rocket passes through several "critical zones" on its way into space.

It will be the first flight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth for Kononenko. The ISS went a crew of three.

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.

McClain served in Iraq and has represented the United States in women's rugby.

"The #Exp58 crew is safely in orbit!"

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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