3 astronauts safely aboard International Space Station

3 astronauts safely aboard International Space Station

Saint-Jacques has spent years training for the six-month mission, which was originally scheduled for December 20 but was moved up after the aborted Soyuz launch.

European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Sergei Prokopyev of Roscosmos will greet the trio when they arrive at the ISS.

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts successfully docked with the International Space Station on Monday following a clean launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan six hours earlier.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian Space Agency representative David Saint-Jacques and Oleg Konenenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will spend the next six and a half months in worldwide the space lab.

FLIGHT engineer David Saint-Jacques (top), flight engineer Anne McClain of NASA (centre) and Soyuz commander Oleg Kononenko wave farewell prior to boarding Russia's Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft.

"OSIRIS-REx will return the sample to Earth in September 2023".

A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin failed two minutes into its flight on October 11, activating an automatic rescue system that sent their capsule into a steep ride back to Earth.

The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief after observing the flawless launch, with October's Soyuz rocket failure still on the minds of many.

3 astronauts safely aboard International Space Station
3 astronauts safely aboard International Space Station

Before take-off, an Orthodox priest at the launchpad on Sunday gave his blessing to the flight, splashing holy water from a brush and holding up a cross.

Investigators blamed a faulty sensor which they said had been damaged during assembly at the Kazakh site.

Saint-Jacques will be the first Canadian resident of the International Space Station since Chris Hadfield, who was on a five-month mission that ended in May 2013.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is now the only organisation transporting astronauts to the ISS after Nasa ended its space shuttle flights in 2011.

McClain, 39, served in Iraq and has represented the United States in women's rugby.

Russia-US cooperation in space has so far remained one of the few areas not affected by a crisis in ties between the former Cold War enemies.

But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have raised eyebrows. In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites.

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