Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts successfully docks with the International Space Station

Gwen Vasquez
December 3, 2018

Astronauts from Russian Federation, the USA and Canada left from Kazakhstan on a mission bound for the International Space Station at 17:30 (11:30 GMT).

A Russian-made Soyuz rocket blasted a three-man crew into orbit on Monday, beginning the first manned voyage to the International Space Station since a mission in October was aborted midair because of a rocket malfunction.

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 blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board".

The trio was due to arrive at the station about six hours after liftoff.

Gerst shared the photographs on Twitter with a message welcoming his new roommates - NASA's Anne McClain, Roscosmos's Oleg Kononenko and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques, all members of Expedition 58 - to space.

NASA's Anne McClain, Russia's Oleg Kononenko, Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques.

"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.

Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts successfully docks with the International Space Station

NASA said, the launch comes less than two months after a booster failure forced a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and United States astronaut Nick Hague to make an emergency landing.

RFE also quoted McClain, 39, saying: "We feel very ready for it".

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

The astronauts who were forced to make an emergency landing will attempt to launch again next spring.

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

The launch comes amid apparent political turmoil in Russian Federation, where the Federal Security Service (FSB) has come into conflict with the cash-strapped space agency Roscosmos over a $1bn contract to launch private satellites on behalf of a USA company.

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.

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