A Soyuz FG rocket thundered to life and shot into orbit smoothly Monday carrying three crew members on a six-hour flight to the International Space Station. The problem-free ascent came less than two months after an Oct. 11 launch abort that forced a different crew to carry out safe-but-scary emergency landing.
Veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, flanked by Canadian flight engineer David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain, launched toward the International Space Station at 6:31 a.m. EST (1131 GMT) Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the first crew launch for Russia’s space program since a Soyuz booster failure led to the emergency landing of a two-man crew in October. The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft docked with the station at 12:33 p.m. EST (1733 GMT).
Keeping up a tradition dating back to the dawn of the Space Age, a Russian Soyuz rocket emerged from a hangar at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan before sunrise Saturday for rollout to Launch Pad No. 1 at the Central Asia space base, moving into position for liftoff Monday with a U.S.-Russian-Canadian crew heading for the International Space Station.
SpaceX is targeting Jan. 7 for launch of its first Crew Dragon commercial ferry ship on an unpiloted test flight to the International Space Station, NASA announced Wednesday, a major milestone in the agency’s drive to end its sole reliance on Russian Soyuz crew ships for carrying astronauts to orbit.
Russian investigators have traced the cause of a dramatic Oct. 11 Soyuz launch abort to a “deformed” sensor in a system that controlled the separation of a strap-on first-stage booster from the rocket’s central core stage, triggering a dramatic emergency escape for the Russian mission commander and his NASA co-pilot, senior managers said Thursday.