Soyuz Rocket Launches, Docks Successfully To Relief Of NASA, Russia Space Agency

Nick Hague

Astronauts Anne McClain from American space agency Nasa, David Saint-Jacques from the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos left aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan just after 11.31am GMT.

That's when a rocket failure forced the Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts to make an emergency landing.

A Russian investigation attributed the failure to a sensor that was damaged during the rocket's final assembly.

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This arrival briefly restores the ISS' crew complement to six as they join Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. The three will spend the next six months onboard the International Space Station.

They escaped unharmed but the failed launch - the first such incident in Russia's post-Soviet history - raised concerns about the state of the Soyuz programme.

The accident highlighted the "smart design of the Soyuz and the incredible work that the search and rescue people here on the ground are ready to do every launch", he said. Kononenko, 54, said during a press conference on the eve of the launch that "risk is part of our profession".

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Those plans were expected to change after the Soyuz MS-10 abort, as Al Mansouri would have returned on Soyuz MS-10, with Hague and Ovchinin, after a brief stay on the station had that mission flown as planned.

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. They will also participate in a study on tiny worms to examine the loss of musculature that affects astronauts in space.

On the other hand, David Saint-Jacques defended that the space rocket is "very safe". Eastern, Saint-Jacques and his two crewmates floated in from the docked Soyuz capsule, embracing the astronauts who have been at the space station since June. The Russian Soyuz program is the only way to get to the ISS after the United States withdrew from the space race in 2011. The report also revealed a corruption problem with an equivalent of billions of dollars "stolen" from the Russian space agency.

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The ISS orbits around the Earth at 28,000 kilometers per hour since 1998.

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