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Soyuz with 3 astronauts docks with space station

05 December 2018

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian, American and Canadian astronauts arrived at the International Space Station on Monday, following the first manned launch since a failed launch in October.

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. Last month, two astronauts from the USA and Russia were forced to make an emergency landing just two minutes after take-off when their Russian-made Soyuz rocket malfunctioned.

The astronauts were the first sent to be sent to the space station since a crewed Soyuz launch was aborted in October after a booster rocket failed to separate properly, crippling the rocket.

It was particularly troubling considering the fact that the Soyuz is now the only spacecraft and rocket that can take humans to space these days, since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques smiled and gave thumbs up to the cheering crowd including relatives as they ascended into the Soyuz capsule on Monday morning.

New astronauts Anne McClain of the United States and David Saint-Jacques of Canada, together with veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko of Russian Federation, are due to arrive at the space station after a trip of six hours.

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"Risk is part of our profession", the 54-year-old said. "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur onboard".

Ms McClain, a former military pilot, said the crew "feel very ready" for their mission.

This was the first time people rode on one of the Russian rockets since October 11, when two and a half minutes after takeoff, one of the Soyuz MS-10's four boosters broke off, sending the aircraft spinning out of control.

A rehearsal unmanned flight, which delivered cargo including food and fuel supplies, was successfully carried out in mid-November. The most experienced of the main crew is Kononenko, who went to the ISS for the fourth time, McClane and Saint-Jacques still have no experience of space flights.

The last Canadian astronaut to visit the space station was Chris Hadfield, who was on a five-month mission that ended in May 2013. The Soyuz capsule carrying the astronaut reached the ISS six hours later.

McClain, 39, served in Iraq and has represented the United States in women's rugby.

Soyuz with 3 astronauts docks with space station