Three Astronauts Dock Safely At International Space Station

Cesar Mills
December 7, 2018

A Russian-made Soyuz rocket blasted a three-man crew into orbit on Monday, beginning the first manned voyage to the International Space Station since a mission in October was aborted in midair because of a rocket malfunction.

After the hatch opened at 2:37 p.m.

Canadian Space Agency president Sylvain Laporte told the crew members there was "a lot of relief" when the astronauts entered the space station about two hours after docking.

As part of the main crew of ISS-58/59 Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, for whom this flight was the fourth astronaut of the Canadian space Agency, David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain, who went into space for the first time.

But the rocket lifted off from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan on a tongue of flame and flew into space without a hitch, live video of the launch showed.

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

Their replacements will launch on February 28, 2019 on Soyuz MS-12. "We feel very ready for it", NASA astronaut McClain said. Had the rocket not reached orbit, the station might have been left unoccupied for a time.

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"We have liftoff", a NASA television commentator said as the rocket roared into the sky under 930 pounds of thrust and at a speed of 1,770 kilometres per hour. They managed to emerge safely despite a harrowing descent back to Earth.

In March 2019, the station will again return to a full complement of six crew members when they are joined for Expedition 59 by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos.

The launch comes after a Soyuz rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague failed on October 11 just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.

Speaking in French, Saint-Jacques said he watched his first sunset from space and called it "breathtaking".

According to Russian chief investigator Igor Skorobogatov, the cause of the failed launch in October was a "deformation of the stem of the contact separation sensor", which in turn led to the first stage of the rocket hitting the second one.

The last Canadian astronaut to visit the space station was Chris Hadfield, who was on a five-month mission that ended in May 2013.

Other reports by GizPress

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