Russia launches first manned voyage to ISS since rocket accident

Gwen Vasquez
December 5, 2018

This is the first manned Russian rocket launch since a dramatic Soyuz failure on October 11.

They will head to the ISS after a Soyuz rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague failed on October 11 just minutes after blast-off.

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

Russia's state space corporation, Roscosmos, traced the failure to a damaged sensor and found that two other Soyuz rockets might have the same defect.

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.

The trio on board appeared in front of reporters before the launch, waving and blowing kisses as they repeatedly denied being nervous about the flight.

Crew commander Kononenko, 54, said during a press conference on the eve of the launch that "risk is part of our profession". "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur onboard".

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-11 space ship blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome Kazakhstan on Monday
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-11 space ship blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome Kazakhstan on Monday

"Looking forward to having a full crew of six up here again, at least for a few weeks". "We feel very ready for it", she said.

The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft lifts off on Monday.

October's accident had highlighted the "smart design of the Soyuz and the incredible work that the search and rescue people here on the ground are ready to do every launch", he said.

They are set to launch at 1131 GMT Monday aboard a Soyuz from Baikonur in Kazakhstan for a six-and-a-half month mission.

The previous launch - involving NASA's Nick Hague and Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin - had to be aborted after the first stage of the rocket failed to separate as planned.

The crew was reporting that all was going well in the critical initial minutes after liftoff and were safely in orbit. The most experienced of the main crew is Kononenko, who went to the ISS for the fourth time, McClane and Saint-Jacques still have no experience of space flights.

"Space represents a lot of opportunities for a lot of Canadians", he said at the agency office. Plus, it's the first time a Canadian astronaut (Saint-Jacques) is headed to space since Chris Hadfield, who lead the International Space Station five years ago and was known for his publicity success. But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have increasingly raised eyebrows.

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