First manned space mission launches since Soyuz failure

First manned space mission launches since Soyuz failure

The first manned space mission to the International Space Station since an unrivalled accident in October, which raised concerns about Moscow´s Soviet-designed shuttle, will launch on Monday.

Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency caress aside any possible safety concerns, saying risk was just part of the job.

They are set to launch at 1131 GMT on Monday aboard a Soyuz from Baikonur in Kazakhstan for a six-and-a-half month mission.

The launch comes after a Soyuz missile shift Russia´s Aleksey Ovchinin and US astronaut Nick Hague failed on 11 October  just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.

They escaped unhurt but the failed launch was the first such incident in Russia´s post-Soviet history and a new setback for the country´s once proud space production.

Ahead of Monday´s launch a Russian Orthodox priest blessed the spaceship on its launchpad, in accordance with heritage, while the crew spoke calmly of the risk involved.

“Risk is part of our career,” crew commander Oleg Kononenko told a news conference at Baikonur on Sunday, attach they “absolutely” trusted teams preparing them for the flight.

“We are psychologically and technically produce for blastoff and any condition which, God forbid, may occur on board,” the 54-year-old said.

Kononenko attack that the crew would conduct a spacewalk on 11 December  as part of an investigation into a mysterious hole that has produce an air leak on the ISS.

Anne McClain, a 39-year-old former military pilot, said the crew stare forward to going up.

“We feel  ready for it,” she said.

‘Soyuz in my backyard’

Canada´s Saint-Jacques, 48, described the Soyuz shuttle as “incredibly safe.”

The disaster highlighted the “smart design of the Soyuz and the unbelievable work that the search and rescue people here on the ground are ready to do every launch,” he said.

Saint-Jacques joked that he had collect so much tuition ahead of the flight “that I felt at the end that I could build a Soyuz in my backyard.”

Of the trio set to arrive the ISS 6 hours after blastoff, both Saint-Jacques and McClain will fly for  first time.

Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission to join to an impressive 533 days in space.

Russia said last month the launch failed the reason of a sensor that was damaged during making at the Baikonur cosmodrome but insisted the spacecraft remained reliable.

The Soviet-designed Soyuz rocket is currently the world´s  lifeline to the ISS.

Saint-Jacques will be the first Canadian spaceman to visit the space station since Chris Hadfield, who recorded a version of David Bowie´s Space misfit classic on board in 2013.

Canada´s governor general and former spaceman Julie Payette is expected to be among the dignitaries to watch Monday´s launch.

‘Spacewalking like rugby’

McClain distribute in Iraq and has represented the United States at women´s rugby.

She has said that tuition to spacewalk resembled the sport since it demands “grit, toughness, mental focus, and more.”

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

But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have glowingly  raised eyebrows.

He recently joked Russia would send a assignment to the Moon to “verify” whether or not NASA lunar landings ever took place.

In recent years Russia´s debt-laden space industry hashurt a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo rocket and satellites.

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