Three astronauts set to launch to ISS tomorrow


The incident became the first failure of a manned space launch in modern Russian history.

The trio will be flying in the same kind of Soyuz launch craft and FG rocket booster that crashed at Baikonur in October, almost costing the lives of Russian commander Alexei Ovchinin and Nasa astronaut Nick Hague.

October's aborted trip saw two astronauts forced to make an emergency landing just minutes after take off. It turned out the problem was in an improperly assembled booster, which damaged the craft when it detached from the second stage.

The Soyuz MS-11 carried Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Canadian David Saint-Jacques and NASA's Anne McClain from Earth to dock with the ISS later on Monday.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is now the only organisation transporting astronauts to the ISS after Nasa ended its space shuttle flights in 2011.

"Looking forward to having a full crew of 6 up here again, at least for a few weeks", German astronaut Alexander Gerst, the station's current commander, said in a tweet.

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.

"Risk is part of our profession", the 54-year-old said.

Three astronauts set to launch to ISS tomorrow

"We have confirmation of the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew safely in orbit", NASA TV said online in its blow-by-blow commentary of the take-off.

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

Afterward, investigators said they believed other Soyuz models may have been defective, but said additional checks had been introduced.

Reports say a Russian Orthodox priest blessed their rocket before its flight on Monday, as per tradition.

The Russian rocket carries USA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko? and CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques.

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

She has said that training to spacewalk was similar to rugby since it demands "grit, toughness, mental focus, and more". In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites.

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