Russian Federation has successfully launched a manned Soyuz rocket into space, two months after a previous launch failed, the country's space agency said on Monday. In particular, the crew will work with the Russian Progress MS resupply ships, load and undock the commercial SpaceX DM1 cargo spaceship, work with the Boe-OFT resupply ship, load and undock the Russian manned Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft for the return of the ISS-56/57 crew to Earth, as well as to conduct onboard photo and video surveys of the flight. Eastern, Saint-Jacques and his two crewmates floated in from the docked Soyuz capsule, embracing the astronauts who have been at the space station since June.
The Soyuz MS-11 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the ISS at 6.31 a.m. EST on Monday (5.31 p.m.in Baikonur).
Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos (center) and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency (right) will launch to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz craft Monday.
The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the USA retired the space shuttle in 2011. The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief after observing the flawless launch.
It was the first manned voyage for the Soviet-era Soyuz since October 11, 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.
The station's current crew of NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst were waiting to greet the newcomers.
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.
The Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle that can ferry crews to the space station, but Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules.
Investigators blamed a faulty sensor which they said had been damaged during assembly at the Kazakh site.
The pair escaped unharmed, but the failed launch was the first such accident in Russia's post-Soviet history and a new setback for the country's once proud space industry.
Monday marks two important milestones for the Soyuz rocket. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine meanwhile thanked the U.S. and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".