Soyuz MS-11 Blasts Off to ISS From Baikonur Cosmodrome

Soyuz MS-11 Blasts Off to ISS From Baikonur Cosmodrome

Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques were all smiles as footage broadcast by NASA TV showed them preparing to enter the Soyuz capsule before launch.

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

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed on Twitter that the crew were "safely in orbit" and thanked the United States and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".

This will be the first launch of a manned spacecraft after the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle crash on October 11.

Two different spacefliers - NASA's Nick Hague and Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin - were supposed to have joined the crew on October 11, but their flight was aborted during the rocket's ascent, forcing them to return to Earth.

"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board", said Kononenko, the 54-year-old crew commander, according to Radio Free Europe.

American Anne McClain, Canadian David Saint-Jacques and Russian Oleg Kononenko successfully took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday on their way to the International Space Station. "We feel very ready for it", she said.

Soyuz MS-11 Blasts Off to ISS From Baikonur Cosmodrome

A criminal investigation into the failure placed the blame on a sensor which had been damaged during assembly.

Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev, who is now onboard the space station, are also scheduled for a spacewalk to examine the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft from the outside.

A rehearsal unmanned flight, which delivered cargo including food and fuel supplies, was successfully carried out in mid-November.

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

Saint-Jacques will be the first Canadian astronaut to visit the space station since Chris Hadfield, who recorded a version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" on board in 2013.

The three Expedition 58 astronauts will briefly join NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev on the ISS.

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