Astronauts say look forward to space after Soyuz accident

Astronauts say look forward to space after Soyuz accident

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 launch of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft carrying Saint-Jacques, Anne McClain of NASA and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, appeared to go exactly as planned, lifting off at precisely 6:31 a.m.

The three-person crew's mission was originally scheduled for later this month, but officials brought it forward to avoid the ISS being left unmanned when its current crew return to earth.

Anne McClain, a 39-year-old former military pilot, struck a similar note.

Space station veteran and mission commander Oleg Kononenko, 54, Quebec family doctor David Saint-Jacques, 48, and Anne McClain, 39, a USA army helicopter pilot who earned masters degrees from the University of Bath and Bristol in the United Kingdom, are scheduled to blast off at 2:30pm Moscow time from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

On Monday, NASA announced Hague and Ovchinin will now launch to the space station on February 28, along with NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch. About six hours later they will reach their new home in space and dock to the Poisk module beginning a six-and-a-half-month mission.

Payette, who completed missions to the space station in 1999 and 2009, says the most risky moments come immediately following the launch as the rocket passes through several "critical zones" on its way into space.

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The stage, at one point spinning rapidly, ended up touching down on the surface of the ocean a few kilometers offshore. If the booster had veered off-course more than two minutes before landing, Gebhardt said, then it would have exploded.

She offered Saint-Jacques a "Bravo, bravo, bravo" and told the space station crew they were an inspiration for humanity. They are scheduled to return to Earth on December 20.

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.

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. They managed to emerge safely despite the harrowing ordeal.

Astronauts from Russian Federation, the USA and Canada left from Kazakhstan on a mission bound for the International Space Station at 17:30 (11:30 GMT).

"I think I was more anxious today than on a typical Soyuz launch because of the launch abort in October", Thirsk, the first Canadian to fly aboard a Soyuz capsule, said in an interview.

Russian space officials took measures to prevent the repeat of such a rocket failure. I'm grateful to Director General Dmitry Rogozin and the entire @NASA and @roscosmos teams for their dedication to making this launch a success.

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