The first manned space mission to the International Space Station with three human space travellers, including two astronauts is set to launch in Kazakhstan on Monday.
Three Exp 58 crew members are less than one day from launch to the station. (From left) Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques blast off Monday at 6:31am ET to their new home in space. Live @NASA TV coverage begins at 5:30am. https://t.co/yuOTrYN8CV pic.twitter.com/v47u449CYH— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) December 2, 2018
Astronauts heading to the International Space Station in a Soyuz rocket for the first time since its emergency landing in October say “they are physically and psychologically prepared.”
The first mission failed raised concerns about Moscow’s Soviet-designed spacecraft, however, Russia’s Rocosmos space agency has confirmed that the previous aborted mission was caused by a faulty sensor.
“Risk is part of our profession. And we are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board,” Crew commander Oleg Kononenko said.
Kononenko added that the crew would contact a spacewalk on December 11 as part of an investigation into a mysterious hole that has caused an air leak on the ISS.
The 54-year-old Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko will lead astronauts Anne McClain of the NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency when they blast off to their new home in space from its launchpad Baikonur Cosmodrome.
Three space travelers, including two astronauts on their first flight, are set to launch to the @Space_Station on Monday, Dec. 3 for a six-and-a-half month mission. Live coverage begins at 5:30am ET. Details: https://t.co/LIablTB2et pic.twitter.com/bKYoz2UA7w— NASA (@NASA) December 3, 2018
Of the trio set to reach the ISS six hours after blastoff, both Saint-Jacques and McClain will fly for the first time, while Kononenko has already logged 533 days in space and Monday’s trip will be his fourth mission.
According to the Russian space agency, the launch had originally been scheduled for December 20 following the Soyuz mission failed, however, the current crew on the ISS needs to return on the earth.
“The original plan was the current crew will return in the middle of December and the next one will replace it shortly afterwards. In order to avoid shifting the ISS to an unmanned mode the industry is exerting considerable efforts to make the launch possible on December 3,” Rocosmos executive director Sergei Krikalyov said.
Ahead of Monday’s launch, a Russian Orthodox priest blessed the spaceship on its launchpad, in accordance with tradition, while the crew spoke calmly of the dangers involved.
NASA’s astronaut McClain, 39, also a colonel in the US Army said the crew looked forward to going up.
“We feel very ready for it,” McClain said.
Canada’s Saint-Jacques, 48, described the Soyuz spacecraft as “incredibly safe.”
The accident 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,” Saint-Jacques said.
(With inputs from agencies)