Soyuz rocket launches flawlessly, weeks after malfunction

Russia launches first manned voyage to ISS since rocket accident

The two crewmembers on a Soyuz mission to the International Space Station that was aborted two minutes after liftoff in October will get a second chance to go to the ISS next year, NASA announced December 3.

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. Arrived at the station the members of the expedition MKS-58/59 Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronauts and the Canadian space Agency Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques. The launch was successful, and the Soyuz spacecraft docked with the ISS at 17:23 GMT.

The spacecraft docked at the space station following four orbits around the Earth.

NASA and Roscosmos said all onboard systems operated normally and the astronauts felt fine during the six-hour trip the space station. The Soviet-era Soyuz rocket is the only means of transporting astronauts to the ISS since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011.

The station's current crew of NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst were waiting to greet the newcomers.

The new crew to the station will be tasked with a number of experiments for various organizations on Earth, including biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

The crew is scheduled to be onboard during the first test flights of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which will return human spaceflight launches to USA soil.

Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos's Alexei Ovchinin safely landed back on Earth in an emergency capsule shortly after taking off.

Taking to micro-blogging website Twitter, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed that the crew were "safely in orbit" and thanked the U.S. and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".

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.

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.

Russian investigators blamed that malfunction, which occurred as the first and second stages of a booster rocket separated, on a damaged sensor.



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