New crew arrives at International Space Station

Russia launches first manned voyage to ISS since rocket accident

Russia launches first manned voyage to ISS since rocket accident

Saint-Jacques will be the first Canadian astronaut to visit the space station since Chris Hadfield, who recorded a version of David Bowie's Space Oddity classic on board in 2013.

Astronauts manned spacecraft "Soyuz MS-11" successfully passed the Board of the global space station after leak checks of the docking and equalization of pressure between the ship and the station.

For a while, the arrival of the three new crewmembers returned the ISS crew complement to a total of six.

The new mission will see the three latest crew members on the station for six months conducting hundreds of science investigations.

Their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft launched from Baikonur at 5:31 p.m. (1131 GMT; 6:31 a.m. EST) then entered a designated orbit just under nine minutes later.

A Soyuz rocket carrying Russian, American and Canadian astronauts took off from Kazakhstan and reached orbit on Monday, in the first manned mission since a failed launch in October.

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As Soyuz rockets are now the only means for astronauts to reach the International Space Station, Monday's launch was closely watched. They joined the three crew members who have been aboard since June: NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor, ESA's Alexander Gerst, and Roscosmos's Sergey Prokopyev. Auñón-Chancellor, Gerst and Prokopyev are scheduled to remain aboard the station until December 20. It was the first manned launch for the Soviet-era Soyuz since October 11, when a rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and United States astronaut Nick Hague failed just minutes after blastoff, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing. On board the spacecraft were Russian cosmonaut Alexei Ovchinin (the commander of the Soyuz MS-10) and NASA astronaut Nick Hague.

"We have confirmation of the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew safely in orbit", NASA TV said online in its blow-by-blow commentary of the take-off.

But most importantly, this is the crew that will handle the first flight tests for NASA's Commercial Crew program.

The Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle that can ferry crews to the space station, but Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules.

The mission was originally scheduled to launch on December 20, but officials brought it forward to avoid the ISS being left unmanned when its current crew return to earth.

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