A Russian-made Soyuz rocket blasted a three-man crew into orbit on Monday, beginning the first manned voyage to the International Space Station since a mission in October was aborted midair because of a rocket malfunction.
After Monday's successful launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted his thanks to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Rogozin and to NASA and Roscosmos space teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".
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 astronauts were the first sent to be sent to the space station since a crewed Soyuz launch was aborted in October after a booster rocket failed to separate properly, crippling the rocket.
Russia's state space corporation, Roscosmos, traced the failure to a damaged sensor and found that two other Soyuz rockets might have the same defect.
"I am completely astounded by everything I have seen", Saint-Jacques said during a brief conversation with family members on the ground at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan.
Crew commander Mr Kononenko said: "Risk is part of our profession". Blastoff kicked off a 6-hour-, four-orbit-long journey to the space station for the trio of astronauts on board.
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"Looking forward to having a full crew of six up here again, at least for a few weeks".
Three astronauts have successfully blasted off to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan, a flawless launch that follows October's aborted mission.
"The teamwork that you demonstrate today is exactly what we should replicate on Earth more often", she said.
Russian Federation said last month the October launch had failed because of a sensor damaged during assembly at the Baikonur cosmodrome, but insisted the spacecraft remained reliable.
This is the first spaceflight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth trip to the space station for Kononenko.
The experiment could pave the way to new treatments for muscular conditions for people on Earth, according to the UK Space Agency.
McClain served in Iraq and has represented the United States in women's rugby.
Russian Federation suspended all manned space launches pending an investigation before giving the green light November 1.
In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites.