Soyuz docks with space station

Astronauts on new mission dismiss safety concerns after Soyuz accident

Astronauts to try for space station on Russian rocket after October crash

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. Monday while flying over 250 miles above Ecuador.

CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques, member of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS), interacts with his children from a bus prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket. About six hours later they will reach their new home in space and dock to the Poisk module beginning a six-and-a-half-month mission.

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.

Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos (center) and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency (right) will launch to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz craft Monday.

McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko will spend more than six months at the space station doing research and experiments in biology, Earth science, physical sciences and technology.

The arrival of the three astronauts restores the space station's crew to six as they join Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos, who are scheduled to remain aboard until December 20.

She offered Saint-Jacques a "Bravo, bravo, bravo" and told the space station crew they were an inspiration for humanity.

A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin failed two minutes into its flight on October 11, activating an automatic rescue system that sent their capsule into a steep ride back to Earth. They managed to emerge safely despite the harrowing ordeal.

The pair escaped unharmed, but the failed launch was the first such accident in Russia's post-Soviet history and a new setback for the country's once proud space industry.

A criminal investigation into the failure placed the blame on a sensor which had been damaged during assembly.

He said Ovchinin and Hague would be on board, along with NASA's Christina Koch.

The incident on 11 October cast a spotlight on the safety of Russia's space programme, whose fleet have suffered a number of technical failures in recent years.

Monday marks two important milestones for the Soyuz rocket.

NASA TV said that astronauts from Russian Federation, the USA and Canada left safely from Kazakhstan earlier today in a mission bound for the International Space Station.

After Monday's successful launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted his thanks to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Rogozin and to NASA and Roscosmos space teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".

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