3 astronauts enter International Space Station

Pablo Tucker
December 7, 2018

They're due to arrive at the ISS six hours after launch, and they'll board the station less than two hours after that.

Stakes were high for Monday's launch, the first to carry a crew since a previous mission to the space station in October was aborted two minutes into the flight after a booster failed to properly separate from the rocket.

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.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed on Twitter that the crew were "safely in orbit" and thanked the U.S. and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".

The Russian rocket carries US astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko? and CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques.

In a successful rehearsal for Monday's flight, a Soyuz cargo vessel took off on November 16 from Baikonur and delivered several tonnes of food, fuel and supplies to the ISS.

"I am completely astounded by everything I have seen", Saint-Jacques said during a brief conversation with family members on the ground at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan.

But he added that his team "absolutely" trusted those who had prepared for the flight. The three new crew of the orbiting outpost lifted off without a hitch on Monday, Dec. 3, from Kazakhstan.

The three Expedition 58 astronauts will briefly join NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev on the ISS.

But the space agency's chief executive, former deputy prime minister Dimitry Rogozin, has been bullish about the project, according to Russian news agency Interfax. She later said she was caught off guard by her own reaction watching her colleague fulfil a lifelong dream.

McClain, 39, served in Iraq and has represented the United States in women's rugby.

Russia-US cooperation in space has remained one of the few areas not affected by a crisis in ties between the former Cold War enemies.

Next year, however, Russian Federation will see intense worldwide competition.

NASA spokesperson Gary Johnson described the mission as "textbook launch and insertion into orbit" during the liftoff commentary. On Board were Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin (the commander of the "Soyuz MS-10") and NASA astronaut Nick Hague, they were not injured.

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