Crew confident ahead of first flight since failed Soyuz launch

Crew confident ahead of first flight since failed Soyuz launch

This is the first launch of manned spacecraft after the accident the carrier rocket "Soyuz-FG" with manned spacecraft "Soyuz MS-10", which was wrecked soon after launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome on October 11.

It will be the fourth visit to the ISS for Russian cosmonaut Mr Kononenko, while the trip will be the first for both Anne McClain from the United States and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency.

If all goes to plan, the spacecraft is due to dock at the ISS at just after 5.30pm tonight - six hours after lift-off.

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

Astronauts Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst are at the space station waiting for their arrival. The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief after observing the flawless launch.

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.

But while the list of astronauts may be small, both Payette and Saint-Jacques emphasize the strength and importance of Canada's space contributions.

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.

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The crew repeatedly denied being nervous about flying and insisted the fact that the two-man crew had safely returned to Earth despite the dramatic mishap had demonstrated the reliability of the rocket's safety mechanisms. They managed to emerge safely despite the harrowing ordeal.

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.

A Russian investigation attributed the failure to a sensor that was damaged during the rocket's final assembly.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin ejected the capsule from the rocket when the spacecraft was about 50 kilometers - 31 miles - above Earth.

Russian space officials have taken measures to prevent the repeat of such incidents.

"I think I was more anxious today than on a typical Soyuz launch because of the launch abort in October", Thirsk, the first Canadian to fly aboard a Soyuz capsule, said in an interview.

Monday marks two important milestones for the Soyuz rocket. I'm grateful to Director General Dmitry Rogozin and the entire @NASA and @roscosmos teams for their dedication to making this launch a success.