Friday, 14 December, 2018

The International Space Station Welcomes Its New Residents

Nick Hague NASA astronaut Nick Hague prepares ahead of his October 2018 launch to the ISS. He will get to try again in 2019. NASA Victor Zelentsov
Sandy Nunez | 05 December, 2018, 18:30

On Monday, Dec. 3, veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, American astronaut Anne McClain, and Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The two crewmembers on a Soyuz mission to the International Space Station that was aborted two minutes after liftoff in October will get a second chance to go to the ISS next year, NASA announced December 3.

The spacecraft docked at the space station following four orbits around the Earth. The three were greeted upon arrival Monday by the station's current crew members, who had waited outside the hatch after the astronauts' capsule docked and underwent safety checks.

Hague and Ovchinin were forced to abort an October 11 mission to the ISS because of an anomaly with the Soyuz spacecraft's booster.

The three astronauts will begin an expected six and a half month stay aboard the ISS, the Russian Roscosmos space agency said.

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

The new crew to the station will be tasked with a number of experiments for various organizations on Earth, including biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.

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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 Soyuz capsule carrying the astronaut reached the ISS six hours later.

The six will be in space together until December 20, when Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev return to Earth.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin was also on the aborted Soyuz launch, and he's set to join Hague and NASA astronaut Christina Koch on the upcoming mission. Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine meanwhile thanked the USA and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".

The launch comes after a Soyuz rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and USA astronaut Nick Hague failed on October 11 just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.

NASA spokesperson Gary Johnson described the mission as "textbook launch and insertion into orbit" during the liftoff commentary.

Russian Federation said last month the launch failed because of a sensor that was damaged during assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome but insisted the spacecraft remained reliable.