Astronauts Aboard Soyuz Rocket Safely Reach ISS

Three astronauts set to launch to ISS tomorrow

Russia successfully launches first manned voyage to International Space Station since October rocket accident

A Russian-made Soyuz rocket blasted a three-man crew into orbit on Monday, beginning the first manned voyage to the International Space Station since a mission in October was aborted in midair because of a rocket malfunction.

The International Space Station (ISS) crew member David Saint-Jacques of Canada gestures shortly before their launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan December 3, 2018.

Last month, two astronauts from the U.S. and Russia were forced to make an emergency landing just two minutes after take-off when their Russian-made Soyuz rocket malfunctioned.

This will be the first launch of a manned spacecraft after the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle crash on October 11.

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

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 smiled and waved, with Saint-Jacques blowing kisses and giving the thumbs-up to a crowd of well-wishers.

It lifted off from Kazakhstan carrying Oleg Kononenko, a Russian, Anne McClain, of the United States, and David Saint-Jacques, of Canada.

Speaking before the trip on Sunday, crew commander Oleg Kononenko affirmed his crew "absolutely" trusted the flight's preparation.

"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board", the 54-year-old said.

Anne McClain, a 39-year-old former military pilot, struck a similar note.

"Well, we have to loop around the earth", McClain said, adding "I'll be over Seattle in about the time it'll take you get back from the buses".

At the time of the launch, the ISS was flying about 250 miles over central Kazakhstan southwest of the capital of Astana, 405 miles ahead of the Soyuz as it leaves the launch pad.

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

This was McClain and Saint-Jacques' first flight into space.

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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