Published: Wed, December 05, 2018
Science | By

December: Graduate blasts off to the International Space Station

December: Graduate blasts off to the International Space Station

The crewmembers of the manned Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft that docked to the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday evening has entered the station after pressure inside the spaceship and the station was equalized, a spokesman for the mission control center said.

The first manned space mission to the since an unprecedented accident in October, which raised concerns about Moscow's Soviet-designed spacecraft, will launch on Monday.

On Monday, Dec. 3, veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, American astronaut Anne McClain, and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The two-man Soyuz MS-10 crew, NASA's Nick Hague and Roscosmos's Aleksey Ovchinin, did not make it to ISS that day, but they will get a second chance in February on Soyuz MS-12.

Following a four-orbit, six-hour journey, the three arrived at the station to finally replace the crew that was left stranded there since October.

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

The Soviet-designed Soyuz rocket is now the world's only lifeline to the ISS.

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.

The three have joined Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency), Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.

Aunon-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev are scheduled to remain aboard the station until December 20.

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. 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 blastoff, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.

Russian Federation said last month the October launch had failed because of a sensor damaged during assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome, but insisted the spacecraft remained reliable.

"We have confirmation of the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew are safely in orbit", NASA said. After Monday's successful launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted his thanks to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Rogozin and to NASA and Roscosmos space teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".

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