A Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian, American and Canadian astronauts arrived at the International Space Station, following the first manned launch since a failed launch in October.
Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome earlier in the day.They successfully docked at the ISS on schedule at 1736 GMT to begin an expected six and a half months aboard the ISS, the Russian Roscosmos space agency said via Twitter.
It was the first manned voyage for the Soviet-era Soyuz since October 11, when a rocket carrying Russia’s Aleksey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague failed just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make a harrowing emergency landing.
Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques smiled and gave thumbs up to the cheering crowd including relatives as they ascended into the Soyuz capsule on Monday morning.Minutes after take off, Roscosmos said the capsule was in orbit. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine meanwhile thanked the US and Russian teams “for their dedication to making this launch a success”.
European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Sergei Prokopyev of Roscosmos were set to greet the trio on arrival at the ISS.McClain, 39, served in Iraq and has represented the United States in women’s rugby.She has said training to spacewalk resembled the sport since it demands “grit, toughness, mental focus, and more”.
Russia-US cooperation in space has remained one of the few areas not affected by a crisis in ties between the former Cold War enemies.But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have raised eyebrows.
He recently joked Russia would send a mission to the Moon to “verify” whether or not NASA lunar landings ever took place.In recent years Russia’s debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites.
At a press conference following the successful docking, Rogozin announced March 1, 2019, as the date for the next manned launch to the ISS.He said Ovchinin and Hague would be on board, along with NASA’s Christina Koch.