Russian Federation successfully launches manned Soyuz rocket following October failure

Three astronauts have blasted off on the first manned Soyuz rocket launch since a dramatic failure in October.

The Soyuz accident in October was the first aborted crew launch for the Russian space program since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts safely jettisoned after a launch pad explosion.

The three new space travellers - Anne McClain of NASA, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos are preparing to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft at 5.31 p.m. from the Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan. Blastoff kicked off a 6-hour-, four-orbit-long journey to the space station for the trio of astronauts on board.

They will start from the same launchpad that Yuri Gagarin did when he became the first man in space in 1961.

It was the first manned launch for the Soviet-era Soyuz since October 11, when a rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and United States astronaut Nick Hague failed just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.

The Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle that can ferry crews to the space station, but Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules.

One is NASA's very own Ann McClain, along with the Canadian space agency's David Saint-Jacques and Oleg Kononenko of Russia's Roscomos.

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Some of those smaller satellites aim to build an internet network capable of supporting smart devices back on Earth's surface. The experienced booster then came in for a picture-perfect landing on a drone ship stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

The launch of the rocket will be observed by the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, the head of NASA's manned flights department, William Gerstenmayer, and the governor-general of Canada, Julie Peyette (former astronaut of the Canadian Space Agency).

Speaking before the trip on Sunday, crew commander Oleg Kononenko affirmed his crew "absolutely" trusted the flight's preparation.

Russia's state space corporation, Roscosmos, traced the failure to a damaged sensor and found that two other Soyuz rockets might have the same defect.

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

NASA had already assigned Koch to the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft in May, a mission at the time scheduled for launch in April 2019.

There, they'll meet the European Space Agency's Alexander Gerst, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos' Sergey Prokopyev, the current crew of the ISS who'll use the Soyuz to return to Earth on December 20.

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

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