Rocket docks at International Space Station

Three astronauts set to launch to ISS tomorrow

The Soyuz was "successfully launched into orbit", Roscosmos wrote on Twitter.

It will be the fourth visit to the ISS for Russian cosmonaut Mr Kononenko, while the trip will be the first for both Anne McClain from the U.S. and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency.

The launch came less than two months after a booster failure forced a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and United States astronaut Nick Hague to make an emergency landing.

This will be the first launch of a manned spacecraft after the Soyuz-FG launch vehicle crash on October 11.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques blasted off from Kazakhstan this morning aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos lifted off as scheduled at 5:31 p.m. (1131 GMT; 6:31 a.m. EST) Monday from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Cosmonaut Kononenko said on Sunday, Dec. 2, during a press conference, that he "absolutely" trusts the flight plan.

"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board".

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

Astronauts set to board the first manned space mission since an unprecedented accident aboard Russia's Soyuz, yesterday brushed aside safety concerns, saying they were ready to take risks.

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

The October accident marked the first Soyuz malfunction in the space system's decades as a reliable workhorse for Russia's space program.

While flight commander Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission to add to an impressive 533 days in space, both Saint-Jacques and McClain are flying for the first time.

Among the dozens of experiments the new crew members will be involved in is one led by British scientists that will use worms to examine muscle loss in space.

But the space agency's chief executive, former deputy prime minister Dimitry Rogozin, has been bullish about the project, according to Russian news agency Interfax. She has said that training to spacewalk was similar to rugby since it demands "grit, toughness, mental focus, and more".

In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites.

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