Canadian astronaut lifts off on rocket headed to International Space Station

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Canadian astronaut lifts off on rocket headed to International Space Station

A Russian Soyuz rocket sent three spacefliers to the International Space Station today, marking a return to normal operations after a hardware problem spoiled a similar flight in October.

The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft lifts off on Monday.

That's when a rocket failure forced the Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts to make an emergency landing.

October's accident had highlighted the "smart design of the Soyuz and the incredible work that the search and rescue people here on the ground are ready to do every launch", he said. A Russian investigation attributed the failure to a sensor that was damaged during the rocket's final assembly.

Gerst shared the photographs on Twitter with a message welcoming his new roommates - NASA's Anne McClain, Roscosmos's Oleg Kononenko and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques, all members of Expedition 58 - to space.

"Risk is part of our profession", the 54-year-old said.

Three space travellers, including two astronauts on their first flight, are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow for a six-and-a-half month mission.

Canadian astronaut lifts off on rocket headed to International Space Station
Canadian astronaut lifts off on rocket headed to International Space Station

A rehearsal unmanned flight, which delivered cargo including food and fuel supplies, was successfully carried out in mid-November.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, is now the only organisation transporting astronauts to the ISS after Nasa ended its space shuttle flights in 2011.

Afterward, investigators said they believed other Soyuz models may have been defective, but said additional checks had been introduced.

Saint-Jacques will be the first Canadian astronaut to visit the space station since Chris Hadfield, who recorded a version of David Bowie's Space Oddity classic aboard the ISS in 2013.

The crew will join American Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Germany's Alexander Gerst and Russia's Sergey Prokopyev, all of whom are already living on the orbital station.

Their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft entered a designated orbit just under nine minutes after the launch and is set to dock at the space outpost in about six hours after making four orbits of the Earth.

During their mission, members of the crew are scheduled to embark on a spacewalk to further probe a mysterious hole that caused a loss of air pressure on-board the ISS in August.

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