Published: Tue, December 04, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Astronauts Successfully Blast Off to International Space Station

Astronauts Successfully Blast Off to International Space Station

The three travelers, a Russian, an American and a Canadian are on the first manned mission since a failed launch from the facility on October 11.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency blasted off for a six-and-a-half month mission on the International Space Station (ISS) on schedule today at 11.30am GMT. You can see more awesome launch photos in our full gallery.

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-11 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

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.

But today, everything went precisely according to plan, with an on-schedule and anomaly-free liftoff at 6:31 a.m. EST (1131 GMT). Blastoff kicked off a 6-hour-, four-orbit-long journey to the space station for the trio of astronauts on board.

USA astronaut Anne McClain, centre, Russian cosmonaut Оleg Kononenko, bottom, and CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. The Russian rocket carries USA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko‎ and CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques.

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

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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.

The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the United States retired the space shuttle in 2011.

"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board".

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

Now that crewed flights have resumed, Gerst and two other crew members, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Russia's Sergey Prokopyev, are due to head back to Earth on December 19.

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

After Monday's successful launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted his thanks to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Rogozin and to NASA and Roscosmos space teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".

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