NASA, Russia launch Soyuz rocket to ISS just weeks after failure

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques lifts off on Russian rocket to International Space Station

NASA, Russia launch Soyuz rocket to ISS just weeks after failure

Three space travellers, including two astronauts on their first flight, are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow for a six-and-a-half month mission. They should reach the International Space Station by noon.

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", the 48-year-old said.

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.

NASA's Anne McClain, Canada's David Saint-Jacques and Russia's Oleg Kononenko lifted off from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan into sunset skies as scheduled at 5:31 p.m. local time (3:31 a.m. PT). Blastoff kicked off a 6-hour-, four-orbit-long journey to the space station for the trio of astronauts on board.

On the space station, the crew of NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst were waiting for their arrival.

Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, the astronauts addressed concerns about the safety of the Russian-made rocket en route to the ISS, so closely on the heels of the previous rocket's emergency landing.

NASA, Russia launch Soyuz rocket to ISS just weeks after failure

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

They will head to the ISS after a Soyuz rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and United States astronaut Nick Hague failed on October 11 just minutes after blast-off.

Russian investigators blamed that malfunction, which occurred as the first and second stages of a booster rocket separated, on a damaged sensor.

The astronauts on board, NASA's Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexey Ovchinin, had to make a dramatic escape 31 miles above the Earth in a capsule that was ejected from the rocket. They were picked up by helicopters and then flown by a plane back to Baikonur.

Russian Federation said last month the October launch had failed because of a sensor damaged during assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome, but insisted the spacecraft remained reliable.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques blasted off from Kazakhstan this morning aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station.

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