Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques set to launch into space

James Marshall
December 5, 2018

American, Canadian and Russian astronauts launched to the International Space Station in a Soyuz rocket Monday morning, weeks after the same model failed shortly after take-off.

The launch came less than two months after a booster failure forced a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and United States 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.

It was particularly troubling considering the fact that the Soyuz is now the only spacecraft and rocket that can take humans to space these days, since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

Click on the video above at 6 a.m. ET to watch live coverage of Saint-Jacques's launch.

The trio on board appeared in front of reporters before the launch, waving and blowing kisses as they repeatedly denied being nervous about the flight.

Gerst shared the photographs on Twitter with a message welcoming his new roommates - NASA's Anne McClain, Roscosmos's Oleg Kononenko and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques, all members of Expedition 58 - to space.

Speaking before the trip on Sunday, crew commander Oleg Kononenko affirmed his crew "absolutely" trusted the flight's preparation.

Russia launches first manned voyage to ISS since rocket accident
Canadian David Saint-Jacques reaches the International Space Station

"Risk is part of our profession", he stated. "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, may occur on board".

Anne McClain, the 39-year-old former military pilot and NASA astronaut, said the crew looked forward to going up.

The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft lifts off on Monday.

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.

Veteran Kononenko said the crew would conduct a spacewalk on 11 December as part of an investigation into a mysterious hole that has caused an air leak on the ISS.

The existing ISS crew is supposed to get its ride back home in a Soyuz capsule that is docked to the station.

Russian Federation suspended all manned space launches pending an investigation before giving the green light November 1.

But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have raised eyebrows. In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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