Soyuz rocket lifts off with new crew for ISS

Pablo Tucker
December 5, 2018

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

The three travelers, a Russian, an American and a Canadian are on the first manned mission since a failed launch from the facility on October 11.

"We have confirmation of the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew safely in orbit", NASA TV said online in its blow-by-blow commentary of the take-off.

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.

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

It was particularly troubling considering the fact that the Soyuz is now the only spacecraft and rocket that can take humans to space these days, since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.


At 6:31 a.m. EST, the Soyuz rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

At a press conference on the eve of the launch, crew commander Kononenko said the astronauts "absolutely" trusted teams preparing for the flight.

"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board".

Cosmonauts will head to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on a spacecraft Soyuz MS-11.

Astronauts set to board the first manned space mission since an unprecedented accident aboard Russia's Soyuz, yesterday brushed aside safety concerns, saying they were ready to take risks.

Ms McClain, a former military pilot, said the crew "feel very ready" for their mission.


"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".

A Russian investigation attributed the failure to a sensor that was damaged during the rocket's final assembly. The planned duration of the flight will be 194 days.

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

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.

He recently joked Russian Federation would send a mission to the Moon to "verify" whether or not NASA lunar landings ever took place.


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