Astronauts blast off for first time since aborted mission

By Canadian Press

This is the first spaceflight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth trip to the space station for Kononenko.

Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft docking at the International Space Station.

A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin failed two minutes into its flight on October 11, activating an automatic rescue system that sent their capsule into a steep ride back to Earth.

Barley two months after a Soyuz made an emergency landing, the Russian spacecraft has safely brought one astronaut each from the U.S. and Canada and a cosmonaut from Russia, to the International Space Station (ISS). In particular, the crew will work with cargo spacecraft "Progress MS", loading and undocking of commercial manned spacecraft SpaceX DM1 in the cargo version, the work with the cargo ship Boe-OFT, download and vastikova manned spacecraft "Soyuz MS-09" for the return to earth of the ISS-56/57 (Prokopiev, Aurion, Hurst), and onboard photographic and video imagery of flight.

The new mission will see the three latest crew members on the station for six months conducting hundreds of science investigations.

They escaped unharmed but the failed launch - the first such incident in Russia's post-Soviet history - raised concerns about the state of the Soyuz programme. Other crewmembers aboard the ISS include Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of the ESA and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos.

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The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the United States retired the space shuttle in 2011. Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev are scheduled to remain aboard the station until December 20.

The rocket launch earlier from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was closely scrutinized because of the abortive mission to the ISS on October 11, which ended two minutes after take-off when a rocket failure forced its two-man crew to perform an emergency landing. They managed to emerge safely despite the harrowing ordeal.

Astronaut Hague and cosmonaut Ovchinin will once again attempt to join the ISS crew on February 28, 2019, alongside Christina Hammock Koch. Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov jettisoned and landed safely near the launch pad.

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

This is the first launch of a manned spacecraft after the abortive blastoff of the Soyuz carrier rocket on October 11.

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.

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