Friday, 14 December, 2018

Astronauts to try for space station on Russian rocket after October crash

A Soyuz rocket takes flight A Soyuz rocket takes
Frank Williams | 05 December, 2018, 14:47

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos were greeted upon arrival Monday by the station's current crew members, who had waited outside the capsule's hatch.

The launch marked the first crewed flight of the Soyuz since a major failure of the rocket in October when the booster malfunctioned with an astronaut and a cosmonaut aboard.

New astronauts Anne McClain of the United States and David Saint-Jacques of Canada, together with veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko of Russian Federation, are due to arrive at the space station after a trip of six hours.

The launch had unusually high stakes following the accident in October, when a Soyuz suffered a malfunction around two minutes after take-off, forcing an American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut to eject about 30 miles above the earth's surface.

The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the United States retired the space shuttle in 2011.

The launch appeared to go smoothly from Kazakhstan at the precise liftoff time of 6:31 a.m. eastern time.

"Risk is part of our profession", crew commander Oleg Kononenko told a news conference at Baikonur, adding they "absolutely" trusted teams preparing them for the flight. "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur onboard".

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

McClain Saint-Jacques and Kononenkoof before launch
McClain Saint-Jacques and Kononenkoof before

NASA announced Monday that Hague and Ovchinin will now launch to the space station on February 28, along with NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch.

Monday marks two important milestones for the Soyuz rocket.

RFE also quoted McClain, 39, saying: "We feel very ready for it".

The previous launch - involving NASA's Nick Hague and Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin - had to be aborted after the first stage of the rocket failed to separate as planned. Plus, it's the first time a Canadian astronaut (Saint-Jacques) is headed to space since Chris Hadfield, who lead the International Space Station five years ago and was known for his publicity success. She has said that training to spacewalk was similar to rugby since it demands "grit, toughness, mental focus, and more".

Welcome to Space! The trio is now safely in orbit and solar arrays have successfully deployed on their Soyuz spacecraft.

The past few months had been tense at Roscosmos, Russia's space agency.

But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have raised eyebrows.

British MPs debate whether gov't breaks rule over legal advice on Brexit
Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was dispatched to field MPs' questions and promised he would answer whatever they wanted to know. Labour Party Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer called the contempt finding "a badge of shame" for the government.

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