Published: Wed, December 05, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Canadian David Saint-Jacques reaches the International Space Station

Canadian David Saint-Jacques reaches the International Space Station

The new crew is scheduled to be onboard during the first test flights of NASA's Commercial Crew Programme, which will return human spaceflight launches to USA soil.

Saint-Jacques has spent years training for the six-month mission, which was originally scheduled for December 20 but was moved up after the aborted Soyuz launch.

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

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 Russian space agency has said the hole was deliberately drilled in an act of sabotage, although it is unclear whether this happened before launch or in orbit. Although neither passenger was harmed, Nick Hague and Alexey Ovchinin had to make a ballistic descent.

Soyuz-FG carrier rocket with a manned Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft blasted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 11. 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".

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Anne McClain, a 39-year-old former military pilot, said the crew looked forward to going up. The United States has been relying on its services since 2001 after the space shuttle program shut down.

In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites. The report also revealed a corruption problem with an equivalent of billions of dollars "stolen" from the Russian space agency.

The launch on Monday was initially scheduled later this month, but it was moved up after October's failure to avoid leaving the ISS unmanned.

The three have joined Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.

Astronaut Hague and cosmonaut Ovchinin will once again attempt to join the ISS crew on February 28, 2019, alongside Christina Hammock Koch. The two were awaiting new assignments since the accident, with Russian officials suggesting in October the two could fly again in the spring of 2019.

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