Some anxious moments as Canadian David Saint-Jacques successfully blasts off

Katie Ramirez
December 5, 2018

This is the first manned Soyuz launch since the October 11 failure that caused Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague to make an emergency landing minutes after liftoff.

The hatch of the capsule carrying NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos was opened while the station was flying over the southern coast of Yemen. The spacecraft made four orbits over six hours as it chased down the space station for the docking.

The latest batch of astronauts to take up residence on board the International Space Station (ISS) have arrived safely following a six-hour flight. The three new crew of the orbiting outpost lifted off without a hitch on Monday, Dec. 3, from Kazakhstan.

These crewmembers will be aboard the ISS during the first test flights of the NASA Commercial Crew Program that will see astronauts being able to get into space from the USA for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet, assuming test flights go well.

The three crew members will spend more than six months conducting hundreds of science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development, providing the foundation for continuing human spaceflight beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars.

Soyuz rocket after launching
Soyuz rocket after launching

The three current inhabitants - Alexander Gerst of Germany, Serena Auñón-Chancellor of the United States and Sergey Prokopyev of Russian Federation - plan to return December 20 aboard a Soyuz module that has been docked to the station since June. Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst, and Prokopyev will return to Earth on December 20 at 12:03 am ET (undocking is December 19 at 8:42 pm ET).

"We have confirmation of the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew are safely in orbit", NASA said. On board the spacecraft were Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin (the commander of the Soyuz MS-10) and NASA astronaut Nick Hague.

Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed on Twitter that the crew were "safely in orbit" and thanked the United States and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success". This caused the mission to be aborted and all Soyuz missions grounded until this week.

Russian Federation said last month the launch failed because of a sensor that was damaged during assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome but insisted the spacecraft remained reliable.

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