MOSCOW: The first manned Soyuz flight since a failed launch in October successfully docked at the International Space Station on Monday, Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said.
“The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft with a crew onboard successfully docked with the Research Module Poisk of the International Space Station,” it said on Twitter.The Soyuz rocket carrying Russian, American and Canadian astronauts took off from Kazakhstan and reached orbit, in the first manned mission since a failed launch in October.
Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain of Nasa and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency blasted off for a six-and-a-half month mission on the International Space Station.
A few minutes after their rocket lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Russian space agency Roscomos announced that the capsule was “successfully launched into orbit”.
Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine confirmed on Twitter that the crew were “safely in orbit” and thanked the US and Russian teams “for their dedication to making this launch a success”.
It was the first manned launch for the Soviet-era Soyuz since Oct 11, when a rocket carrying Russia’s Aleksey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague failed just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.
They escaped unharmed but the failed launch — the first such incident in Russia’s post-Soviet history — raised concerns about the state of the Soyuz programme.
The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the United States retired the space shuttle in 2011.
Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques showed no signs of worry as they boarded a bus to take them to the launch. They smiled and waved, with Saint-Jacques blowing kisses and giving the thumbs-up to a crowd of well-wishers.
Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2018