3 astronauts blast off to International Space Station

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3 astronauts blast off to International Space Station

The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief Monday after observing the flawless launch, with October's rocket failure still on the minds of many.

Three astronauts who launched into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft have entered the International Space Station after spending almost eight hours in their tiny capsule.

The Soyuz successfully docked with the space station a few hours later, with the hatches between the two vessels opening shortly after 2:30 p.m. ET.

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts has successfully docked with the International Space Station following a launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan six hours earlier.

The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-11 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

Since NASA retired the space shuttle in 2011, Russian Soyuz rockets have been the only way to get people to the International Space Station.

She said the most risky moments will come in the moments following the launch, as the rocket passes through several "critical zones" on its way into space.

The crew arrival will briefly restore the station's crew complement to six as they join Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, who are scheduled to remain aboard the station till December 20.

ISS Astronauts
Astronauts Anne McClain Oleg Kononenko and David Saint Jacques

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.

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 managed to emerge safely from a harrowing ordeal.

A Russian investigation attributed the failure to a sensor that was damaged during the rocket's final assembly.

Aboard were crew members from Russian Federation, the United States and Canada.

He said Ovchinin and Hague would be on board, along with NASA's Christina Koch.

October's aborted trip saw two astronauts forced to make an emergency landing just minutes after take off.

Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques smiled and gave thumbs up to the cheering crowd including relatives as they ascended into the Soyuz capsule on Monday morning. I'm grateful to Director General Dmitry Rogozin and the entire @NASA and @roscosmos teams for their dedication to making this launch a success.

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