NASA astronaut Nick Hague thought he was going to the International Space Station for the first time in October, but a rocket failure put a temporary halt to his dream of living and working in space. The Soyuz rocket which took off from the cosmodrome in Kazakhstan has Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques on board. That triggered the Soyuz spacecraft's launch abort system, sending the spacecraft away from the damaged rocket.
Russia's Soyuz rocket, the first manned space mission to the International Space Station since an unprecedented accident in October was launched on Monday.
They escaped unharmed but the failed launch - the first such incident in Russia's post-Soviet history - raised concerns about the state of the Soyuz programme. The Russian Soyuz program is the only way to get to the ISS after the United States withdrew from the space race in 2011. Crew commander Kononenko said his crew recognized the risks of spaceflight as part of their profession and expressed confidence in the flight preparation. "In a way, this episode reassures me about the intelligence of Soyuz and the incredible work of the research team here on Earth", explained Saint-Jacques, 48. The launch was successful, and the Soyuz spacecraft docked with the ISS at 17:23 GMT. Roscosmos has experienced a series of setbacks in the past couple of months, including a mysterious hole in one of the docked capsules in the ISS.
Speaking in French, Saint-Jacques said he watched his first sunset from space and called it "breathtaking".
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Saint-Jacques joked that he had received so much training ahead of the flight "that I felt at the end that I could build a Soyuz in my backyard".
Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission to add to an impressive 533 days in space.
These crewmembers will be aboard the ISS during the first test flights of the NASA Commercial Crew Program that will see astronauts being able to get into space from the USA for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet, assuming test flights go well.
He'll be observing the effects of space on bone density, ocular pressure, and even the brain - all in the hopes of helping NASA figure out how to physically prepare astronauts for a potential mission to Mars. The experiment is using worms to understand muscle loss in space.