NASA, Russia launch Soyuz rocket to ISS just weeks after failure

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques lifts off on Russian rocket to International Space Station

NASA, Russia launch Soyuz rocket to ISS just weeks after failure

Aboard the International Space Station, he will conduct a number of science experiments, with some focusing on the physical effects of the weak gravity astronauts experience in orbit as well as how to provide remote medical care.

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.

After launching at 11.31am GMT the three are set to dock at the International Space Station at exactly 5.36pm GMT.

After NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, Russian Soyuz rockets have been the only way to get people to the International Space Station.

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

On the space station, the crew of NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst were waiting for their arrival. Meanwhile, Kononenko, Saint-Jacques and McClain will spend the next six and a half months in orbit. They are scheduled to return to Earth on December 20.

NASA, Russia launch Soyuz rocket to ISS just weeks after failure

NASA said, the launch comes less than two months after a booster failure forced a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and USA astronaut Nick Hague to make an emergency landing. Russian investigators determined that one of the Soyuz rocket's side boosters didn't separate cleanly, due to a problem with a bent sensor.

Russian space officials have taken measures to prevent the repeat of such incidents.

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".

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. At that time, the space station and the spacecraft were 251 miles over the Atlantic Ocean, just east of the Caribbean.

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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