3-nation crew blasts off to space station
Washington: A Soyuz MS-11, carrying one astronaut each from the US and Canada and a cosmonaut from Russia, has been successfully launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday and has safely reached orbit, the US space agency NASA said in a statement.
The Soyuz MS-11 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the ISS at 6.31 a.m. EST on Monday (5.31 p.m. in Baikonur). At the time of launch, the station was flying about 250 miles over central Kazakhstan southwest of the capital of Astana, 405 miles ahead of the Soyuz as it leaves the launch pad.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Konenenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos began their six-hour trip to the orbital laboratory where they will live and work for the next six-and-a-half months.
"The #Exp58 crew is safely in orbit! I'm grateful to Director General Dmitry Rogozin and the entire @NASA and @roscosmos teams for their dedication to making this launch a success. Ad Astra!," Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator tweeted on Monday.
The launch came less than two months after a booster failure forced a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague to make an emergency landing.
The incident became the first failure of a manned space launch in modern Russian history.
The crew arrival will briefly restore the station's crew complement to six as they join Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, who are scheduled to remain aboard the station till December 20.
The crew members will also receive the SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft set to launch on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and deliver more than 5,800 pounds of critical research and supplies.
"Welcome to Space! The trio is now safely in orbit and solar arrays have successfully deployed on their Soyuz spacecraft. They will now embark on six-hour chasedown of the space station and are expected to arrive later today," NASA tweeted.