3 crewmembers launch to space station aboard Russian Soyuz rocket

The International Space Station is about to get three new residents. 

On Monday, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenkoof launched to the orbiting outpost aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket. 

The launch marked the first crewed flight of the Soyuz since a major failure of the rocket in October when the booster malfunctioned with an astronaut and a cosmonaut aboard.

The astronaut and cosmonaut got back to Earth safely after an abort was triggered by the Soyuz, blasting them away from the failing rocket.

In the time between launches, Russia and NASA have investigated the cause of the accident and determined that it wouldn’t be a problem during Monday’s launch.

And luckily, they were right. 

If all continues to go according to plan with the Monday launch, the three crew members should arrive at the space station in about six hours. 

McClain, Saint-Jacques, and Kononenkoof before launch.

Image: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

The October accident marked the first Soyuz malfunction in the space system’s decades as a reliable workhorse for Russia’s space program.

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

NASA hopes that SpaceX and Boeing will change that when their human-rated space launch systems come online in the coming years.

McClain, Saint-Jacques, and Kononenkoof are expected to live and work on the station for about 6.5 months. 

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