NASA, Roscosmos Successfully Launch Soyuz After Aborted Mission

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A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts successfully docked with the International Space Station on Monday following a clean launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan six hours earlier.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko (C) and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency pose during their press conference at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 2, 2018.

The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief Monday after observing the flawless launch, with October's rocket failure still on the minds of many.

The trio blasted off aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket two months after a similar rocket launched from the same site malfunctioned, forcing astronauts Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague to make an emergency re-entry.

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

That triggered the Soyuz spacecraft's launch abort system, sending the spacecraft away from the damaged rocket.

The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the United States retired the space shuttle in 2011.

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

Ahead of Monday's launch a Russian Orthodox priest blessed the spaceship on its launchpad, in accordance with tradition.

USA astronaut Anne McClain, centre, Russian cosmonaut Оleg Kononenko, bottom, and CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, wave as they board the rocket prior to the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

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

Three astronauts who launched into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft have entered the International Space Station after spending almost eight hours in their tiny capsule.

October's accident had highlighted the "smart design of the Soyuz and the incredible work that the search and rescue people here on the ground are ready to do every launch", he said.

While flight commander Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission to add to an impressive 533 days in space, both Saint-Jacques and McClain are making their maiden trip.

The crew will join American Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Germany's Alexander Gerst and Russia's Sergey Prokopyev, all of whom are already living on the orbital station.

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