Friday, 22 February, 2019


Russian Federation launches first manned voyage to ISS since rocket accident

Kristine Garrett | 04 December, 2018, 05:06

While flight commander Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission to add to an impressive 533 days in space, both Saint-Jacques and McClain are flying for the first time.

The three were greeted upon arrival Monday by the station's current crew members, who had waited outside the hatch after the astronauts' capsule docked and underwent safety checks. The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief after observing the flawless launch.

The launch was closely scrutinised because of the abortive mission to the ISS on October 11, which ended two minutes after take-off when a rocket failure forced its two-man crew to perform an emergency landing.

A Soyuz rocket carrying Russian, American and Canadian astronauts took off from Kazakhstan and reached orbit today, the first manned mission since a failed launch in October.

Cosmonaut of Roscosmos Oleg Kononenko, astronauts of NASA and the Canadian space agency Ann McClain and David Saint-Jacques will head to the ISS.

Anne McClain, the 39-year-old former military pilot and NASA astronaut, said the crew looked forward to going up.

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

The trip to space - which had originally been scheduled for December 20 - had to be moved up to ensure that the ISS wouldn't be abandoned for the first time since crew arrived there on November 2, 2000. They managed to emerge safely from a harrowing ordeal.

The astronauts who were forced to make an emergency landing will attempt to launch again next spring.

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.

They'll spend about six hours in orbit before docking at the ISS around 12:30 p.m, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.

Since the mishap, four successful unmanned Soyuz satellite launches have been conducted.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine meanwhile thanked the United States and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".

The trio aboard the rocket will be on the International Space Station for six and a half months before heading back to Earth.

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