Russia launches Soyuz, the first manned mission to International Space Station
Russia’s Soyuz rocket, the first manned space mission to the International Space Station since an unprecedented accident in October was launched on Monday. The Soyuz rocket which took off from the cosmodrome in Kazakhstan has Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques on board.
Saint-Jacques and McClain will fly for the first time, while Kononenko has already logged 533 days in space and this trip will be his fourth mission.
ALSO READ | NASA Asteroid warning: 90ft space rock heads towards Earth
Taking to micro-blogging website Twitter, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed that the crew were "safely in orbit" and thanked the US and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".
"We have confirmation of the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew are safely in orbit," NASA said.
The cosmonauts on board brushed aside any possible safety concerns, saying the risk was just part of the job. "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board." "We feel very ready for it," NASA astronaut McClain said. Canada’s Saint-Jacques, 48, described the Soyuz spacecraft as “incredibly safe.”
The three-man crew met their relatives and appeared briefly before reporters on Monday morning, They were seen waving and blowing kisses as they left a hotel to board a bus on their way to prepare for the flight.
ALSO READ | Planet Earth working on three more Mars landers to follow InSight
The new arrivals to the ISS will join the European Space Agency's Alexander Gerst, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Russia's Sergey Prokopyev, who have been in orbit since June but are due to fly back to Earth on December 20.
The first failed mission raised concerns about Moscow’s Soviet-designed spacecraft, however, Russia’s Rocosmos space agency has confirmed that the previous aborted mission was caused by a faulty sensor.