Published: Fri, December 07, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Astronauts on new mission dismiss safety concerns after Soyuz accident

Astronauts on new mission dismiss safety concerns after Soyuz accident

NASA's Anne McClain, Russia's Oleg Kononenko, Canada's David Saint-Jacques were aboard the launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Monday as part of Expedition 58.

It's the first time a crewed Soyuz rocket successfully made it to space following an aborted mission on October 11, where two space travelers were forced to perform an emergency landing after a deformed sensor caused issues.

"We have confirmation of the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew safely in orbit", NASA TV said online in its blow-by-blow commentary of the take-off.

The event was the first failed manned launch for the Russian space program since 1983 when a Soyuz rocket exploded on the launch pad.

On Monday, a Soyuz rocket carrying three astronauts from Russia, the US and Canada departed from the Baikonur site in Kazakhstan run by Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

If all goes as planned, six hours later they will dock with the space station.

Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques showed no signs of worry as they boarded a bus yesterday to take them to the launch.

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.

Expedition 58 Flight Engineer David Saint Jacques answers a question during a press conference Sunday Dec. 2 2018 at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur Kazakhstan. He is seen with fellow crewmates Flight Engineer Anne Mc Clain of NASA left and Soyuz Com
Image Anne McClain Oleg Kononenko David Saint Jacques are heading to the ISS

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

Its current crew - Sergey Prokopyev, Serena Auñón-Chancellor, and Commander Alexander Gerst - will return to Earth on December 20.

Investigators blamed a faulty sensor which they said had been damaged during assembly at the Kazakh site.

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

The pair escaped unharmed, but the failed launch was the first such accident in Russia's post-Soviet history and a new setback for the country's once proud space industry.

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

Monday marks two important milestones for the Soyuz rocket. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine meanwhile thanked the United States and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".

Monday's launch will be followed by a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft carrying cargo - including festive food for the holidays - to the ISS from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday.

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