Russian Federation launches first manned voyage to ISS since rocket accident

Anne McClain Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos and David Saint Jacques          NASA  Victor Zelentsov

The launch of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft carrying Saint-Jacques, Anne McClain of NASA and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, appeared to go exactly as planned, lifting off at precisely 6:31 a.m.

That's when a rocket failure forced the Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts to make an emergency landing. That triggered the Soyuz spacecraft's launch abort system, sending the spacecraft away from the damaged rocket.

Saint-Jacques has spent years training for the six-month mission, which was originally scheduled for December 20 but was moved up after the aborted Soyuz launch.

An global crew aboard a Russian-made Soyuz rocket docked safely at the worldwide Space Station (ISS) on Monday, the first manned voyage to the ISS since a mission in October was aborted midair because of a rocket malfunction.

The first failed mission raised concerns about Moscow's Soviet-designed spacecraft, however, Russia's Rocosmos space agency has confirmed that the previous aborted mission was caused by a faulty sensor.

At a press conference on the eve of the launch, crew commander Kononenko said the astronauts "absolutely" trusted teams preparing for the flight.

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Aboard the International Space Station, he will conduct a number of science experiments, with some focusing on the physical effects of the weak gravity astronauts experience in orbit as well as how to provide remote medical care.

The examination has to be conducted in space, as the portion of the Soyuz ship with the hole is created to separate and burn during re-entry, meaning it can not be examined on the ground. They will also participate in a study on tiny worms to examine the loss of musculature that affects astronauts in space.

Astronaut Jenni Sidey-Gibbons echoed the message, saying Saint-Jacques was a special role model for her and other young people who may be considering a future in space. It will reunite Hague and Ovchinin for a second shot at their Soyuz MS-10 mission, which was foiled when one of the four Soyuz strap-on rockets did not detach properly and impacted the core stage about two minutes after launch. The failure in this release reflected the difficulties of the Russian space industry. The Soviet-era Soyuz rocket is the only means of transporting astronauts to the ISS since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011.

The construction of the new Vostoshny cosmodrome was marked by numerous cases of corruption and the Russian court of accounts accused Roskosmos at the end of November for the disappearance of several hundred billion rubles "stolen".

The ISS orbits around the Earth at 28,000 kilometers per hour since 1998.

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