Three astronauts safely reach the international space station
Three astronauts Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Russian space agency who were launched into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft Monday entered the International Space Station nearly eight hours later, a relief to relatives and scientist months after a rocket failure aborted another mission.
The hatch was opened at 1:37 a.m. (1940 GMT; 2:40 p.m. EST) while the station was flying over the southern coast of Yemen. The three launched into space from the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Monday at 5:31 p.m. (1131 GMT; 6:31 a.m. EST.) They docked with the station at 11:33 p.m. (17:33 GMT; 12:33 p.m. EST.) The spacecraft made four orbits over six hours as it chased down the space station for the docking. The astronauts were the first sent to be sent to the space station since a crewed Soyuz launch was aborted in October after a booster rocket failed to separate properly, crippling the rocket. The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief after observing the flawless launch. The crew waited in their capsule for two hours while the latches and seals of the docking port were being checked and ground controllers confirm it is safe to open the spacecraft’s hatch.
The three were greeted upon arrival by the station’s curent crew members, who had waited outside the hatch after the astronauts’ capsule docked and underwent safety checks. McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko will spend more than six months at the space station doing research and experiments in biology, Earth science, physical sciences and technology. They are scheduled to return to Earth on December 20.
After Monday’s successful launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted his thanks to his Russian counterpart Dmitry Rogozin and to NASA and Roscosmos space teams “for their dedication to making this launch a success.”