Liftoff! Rocket blasts into orbit one month after dramatic launch failure

Cesar Mills
December 5, 2018

The launch marked the first crewed flight of the Soyuz since a major failure of the rocket in October when the booster malfunctioned with an astronaut and a cosmonaut aboard.

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts has successfully docked with the International Space Station following a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan six hours earlier.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, American astronaut Anne McClain and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques successfully launched at 6:31 a.m. ET from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and went into orbit a short time later.

The mission to the ISS - the 58th using a Soyuz - may be one of the last taken with the rocket that has served as the only way to get to the ISS since NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst captured this incredible image during a crewed Soyuz launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 3, 2018.

At a press conference the night before the launch, crew commander Kononenko said the astronauts "absolutely" trusted teams preparing for the flight.

"Risk is part of our profession", the 54-year-old said. "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur onboard".

Their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft entered a designated orbit just under nine minutes after the launch and is set to dock at the space outpost in about six hours.

This was the first time people rode on one of the Russian rockets since October 11, when two and a half minutes after takeoff, one of the Soyuz MS-10's four boosters broke off, sending the aircraft spinning out of control.

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Following that accident, Russia's space agency Roscomos suspended all manned Soyuz flights, cutting off the only way to get astronauts to the ISS.

The October accident marked the first Soyuz malfunction in the space system's decades as a reliable workhorse for Russia's space program.

Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission to add to an impressive 533 days in space.

The experiment could pave the way to new treatments for muscular conditions for people on Earth, according to the UK Space Agency.

Russian Federation suspended all manned space launches pending an investigation before giving the green light November 1.

But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have raised eyebrows.

In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites.

The astronauts are slated to stay on the ISS until July 2019.

Other reports by GizPress

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