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

Cristina Cross
December 3, 2018

Gerst, who tweeted in anticipation of the new trio's arrival early Monday, could see the launch from the ISS because the space station was in orbit directly over Kazakhstan at the time.

NASA's Anne McClain, Canada's David Saint-Jacques and Russia's Oleg Kononenko lifted off from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan into sunset skies as scheduled at 5:31 p.m. local time (3:31 a.m. PT).

Monday's launch from Kazakhstan is the first successful manned mission to the space lab since an aborted Soyuz launch in October.

Anne McClain, the 39-year-old former military pilot and NASA astronaut, said the crew looked forward to going up.

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

There, they'll meet the European Space Agency's Alexander Gerst, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos' Sergey Prokopyev, the current crew of the ISS who'll use the Soyuz to return to Earth on December 20.

Two different spacefliers - NASA's Nick Hague and Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin - were supposed to have joined the crew on October 11, but their flight was aborted during the rocket's ascent, forcing them to return to Earth.

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

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.

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

The Soyuz was "successfully launched into orbit", Roscosmos wrote on Twitter.

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.

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.

The accident in October was the first aborted crew launch for the Russian space program since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts safely jettisoned after a launch pad explosion.

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