Tuesday, 18 December, 2018

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

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques lifts off on Russian rocket to International Space Station Soyuz Successfully Launched Into Orbit, Says Russia's Space Agency
Kristen Harrington | 03 December, 2018, 14:39

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques is set to blast off in a Russian Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakhstan en route to the International Space Station (ISS).

Payette, who completed missions to the space station in 1999 and 2009, says the most unsafe moments come immediately following the launch as the rocket passes through several "critical zones" on its way into space.

Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency brushed aside any possible safety concerns, saying risk was just part of the job.

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

During the last launch on October 11, a rocket carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague malfunctioned about two minutes after the liftoff, sending their escape capsule into a steep fall back to Earth.

A criminal investigation into the failure placed the blame on a sensor which had been damaged during assembly.

The crew was reporting that all was going well in the critical initial minutes after liftoff and were safely in orbit.

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

Ahead of Monday's launch a Russian Orthodox priest blessed the spaceship on its launchpad, in accordance with tradition, while the crew spoke calmly of the dangers involved.

"We feel very ready for it", she said.

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McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko will spend more than six months doing research and experiments in biology, Earth science, physical sciences and technology.

Canada's governor general and former astronaut Julie Payette is expected to be among the dignitaries to watch Monday's launch.

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.

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The launch will be a test for Russia's space industry, which has suffered several high-profile crashes in recent years but remains the only reliable way to deliver crew members to the orbiting station.

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