Normal flight: Soyuz with a new crew heading to the ISS

  • Normal flight: Soyuz with a new crew heading to the ISS

Normal flight: Soyuz with a new crew heading to the ISS

A Soyuz MS-11, carrying one astronaut each from the U.S. and Canada and a cosmonaut from Russian Federation, has been successfully launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday and has safely reached orbit, the USA space agency NASA said in a statement.

NASA's Anne McClain, the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko reached orbit minutes after the smooth launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:31 a.m. PT.

It was the first manned launch for the Soviet-era Soyuz since 11 October, when a rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and United States astronaut Nick Hague failed just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make a harrowing emergency landing.

Stakes were high for Monday's launch, the first to carry a crew since a previous mission to the space station in October was aborted two minutes into the flight after a booster failed to properly separate from the rocket.

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

The astronauts on board, NASA's Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexey Ovchinin, had to make a dramatic escape 31 miles above the Earth in a capsule that was ejected from the rocket.

The incident became the first failure of a manned space launch in modern Russian history.

"Risk is part of our profession", the 54-year-old said at a press conference.

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

"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board".

Since the mishap, four successful unmanned Soyuz satellite launches have been conducted to clear the path for the crew's launch on Monday. NASA has awarded multi-billion dollar contracts to SpaceX and Boeing as part of the space agency's Commercial Crew Program.

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.

The trip to space - which had originally been scheduled for December 20 - had to be moved up to ensure that the ISS wouldn't be abandoned for the first time since crew arrived there on November 2, 2000.

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