Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts successfully docks with the International Space Station

Soyuz docks with space station

Astronauts on new mission dismiss safety concerns after Soyuz accident

Astronauts from Russian Federation, the U.S. and Canada left from Kazakhstan on a mission bound for the International Space Station at 17:30 (11:30 GMT).

The accident highlighted the "smart design of the Soyuz and the incredible work that the search and rescue people here on the ground are ready to do every launch", the 48-year-old said.

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency launched for a six-and-a-half month mission on the International Space Station at the expected time of 1131 GMT.

Their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft entered a designated orbit just under nine minutes after the launch and is set to dock at the space outpost in about six hours after making four orbits of the Earth.

The launch, which took place from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as the sun was setting, was the first crewed launch since an anomaly during booster separation sent two astronauts falling back to Earth in an emergency landing on October 11.

NASA spokesperson Gary Johnson described the mission as "textbook launch and insertion into orbit" during the liftoff commentary.

"Risk is part of our profession", he stated. "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, may occur on board". They will spend in space for 194 days.

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Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, the astronauts addressed concerns about the safety of the Russian-made rocket en route to the ISS, so closely on the heels of the previous rocket's emergency landing.

Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques will officially become the Expedition 58 crew when Gerst, Aunon-Chancellor and Prokopyev depart the station for home on December 20.

But the space agency's chief executive, former deputy prime minister Dimitry Rogozin, has been bullish about the project, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites. NASA has awarded multi-billion dollar contracts to SpaceX and Boeing as part of the space agency's Commercial Crew Program.

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

Astronaut Hague and cosmonaut Ovchinin will once again attempt to join the ISS crew on February 28, 2019, alongside Christina Hammock Koch.

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