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Soyuz Successfully Launched Into Orbit, Says Russia's Space Agency

05 December 2018

A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin failed two minutes into its flight on October 11, activating an automatic rescue system that sent their capsule into a steep ride back to Earth.

The Soyuz 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.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is now the only organisation transporting astronauts to the ISS after Nasa ended its space shuttle flights in 2011.

Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques were all smiles as footage broadcast by NASA TV showed them preparing to enter the Soyuz capsule before launch.

It was expected the crowd on the ground watching the liftoff in Kazakhstan would include members of Saint-Jacques' family as well as Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, herself a former astronaut.

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The hatch of the capsule carrying NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos was opened while the station was flying over the southern coast of Yemen.

Speaking before the trip on Sunday, crew commander Oleg Kononenko affirmed his crew "absolutely" trusted the flight's preparation.

"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board", the 54-year-old said.

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

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, 48, agreed that the Soyuz spacecraft was "incredibly safe".

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A rehearsal unmanned flight, which delivered cargo including food and fuel supplies, was successfully carried out in mid-November. The planned duration of the flight will be 194 days.

The ISS went a crew of three.

Saint-Jacques will be the first Canadian resident of the International Space Station since Chris Hadfield, who was on a five-month mission that ended in May 2013. NASA's McClain was deployed to Iraq and represented the United States women's national rugby union team in the past.

She has said that training to spacewalk resembled the sport since it demands "grit, toughness, mental focus, and more".

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

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Next year, however, Russian Federation will see intense worldwide competition.

Soyuz Successfully Launched Into Orbit, Says Russia's Space Agency