3 astronauts dock safely at International Space Station

Federico Mansilla
Diciembre 6, 2018

The crewmembers of the manned Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft that docked to the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday evening has entered the station after pressure inside the spaceship and the station was equalized, a spokesman for the mission control center said.

Speaking in French, he described his first sunrise seen from space as "breathtaking".

"I brought a few personal items that remind me of my family, of my children, of my parents, my wife and the people I love on the planet, so they're mainly mementoes", he said recently, adding that his luggage has already been sent ahead.

"Although we knew that you were safe and sound, there was nothing like seeing you come through the hatch", Laporte said.

But while the list of astronauts may be small, both Payette and Saint-Jacques emphasize the strength and importance of Canada's space contributions.

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Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency blasted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome earlier in the day. The ISS went a crew of three.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains praised the successful takeoff and said the mission offers an exciting opportunity for scientific research and developments that could have broad applications, in such things as robotics and aging.

The mission is expected to last 194 days, according to TASS, which means the trio will remain on board through July 2019.

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"Space is changing so quickly and my hope is Canada's as much a participant as it has ever been in worldwide programs moving forward", she said.

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

The crew repeatedly denied being nervous about flying and insisted the fact that the two-man crew had safely returned to Earth despite the dramatic mishap had demonstrated the reliability of the rocket's safety mechanisms.

Russian investigators blamed that malfunction, which occurred as the first and second stages of a booster rocket separated, on a damaged sensor.

The Soyuz is the only spacecraft shuttling astronauts between Earth and the International Space Station since the US Space Shuttle was retired in 2011.

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.

Aboard the station, his role will include conducting a number of science experiments, some of which will focus on the physical effects of the weak gravity astronauts experience in orbit, as well as how to provide remote medical care.

The station's current crew of NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst were waiting to greet the newcomers.

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