Three space travellers set to launch to International Space Station tomorrow

Three space travellers set to launch to International Space Station tomorrow

FLIGHT engineer David Saint-Jacques (top), flight engineer Anne McClain of NASA (centre) and Soyuz commander Oleg Kononenko wave farewell prior to boarding Russia's Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft.

Stakes were high for Monday's launch, the first to carry a crew since a previous mission to the space station in October was aborted two minutes into the flight after a booster failed to properly separate from the rocket.

The Soyuz was "successfully launched into orbit", Roscosmos wrote on Twitter.

American astronaut Anne McClain joined Canada's David Saint-Jacques and Russia's Oleg Kononenko aboard the rocket that launched from the Baikonur spaceport in the desert of Kazakhstan on Monday.

The launch comes less than two months after a booster failure forced a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and USA astronaut Nick Hague to make an emergency landing.

The 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.

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.

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

"Risk is part of our profession", the 54-year-old said at a press conference. "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, may occur on board".

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"Welcome to Space! The trio is now safely in orbit and solar arrays have successfully deployed on their Soyuz spacecraft".

NASA announced Monday that Hague and Ovchinin will now launch to the space station on February 28, along with NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch.

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

McClain, a 39-year-old former military pilot, said the crew looked forward to going up. "We feel very ready for it", she said.

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

This is the first spaceflight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth trip to the space station for Kononenko. CBC News Network will also broadcast the interactive special featuring Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

"Space represents a lot of opportunities for a lot of Canadians", he said at the agency office.

He recently joked Russian Federation would send a mission to the Moon to "verify" whether or not NASA lunar landings ever took place.

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