McClain, Saint-Jacques and Konenenko docked to the space station's Poisk module (Photo: Twitter@roscosmos)
Russian Soyuz spacecraft has landed one astronaut each from the US and Canada and a cosmonaut from Russia, on the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft was launched on Monday from cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Soyuz has Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques on board.
Saint-Jacques and McClain were on board for the first time, while Kononenko has already logged 533 days in space and this trip will be his fourth mission.
McClain, Saint-Jacques and Konenenko docked to the space station's Poisk module at 12.33 p.m. after a four-orbit, six-hour journey, and opened the hatch between the two spacecraft at 2.37 p.m., and are adjusting to life, NASA said in a statement on Tuesday.
Minutes after take-off, Roscosmos said the capsule was in orbit. NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine meanwhile thanked the US and Russian teams "for their dedication to making this launch a success".
The three crew members will also conduct experiments in forest observation, robotic refuelling and satellite deployment.
On Monday, the cosmonauts on board brushed aside any possible safety concerns, saying the risk was just part of the job. "We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board." "We feel very ready for it," NASA astronaut McClain said. Canada’s Saint-Jacques, 48, described the Soyuz spacecraft as “incredibly safe.”
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The new arrivals to the ISS will join the European Space Agency's Alexander Gerst, NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Russia's Sergey Prokopyev, who have been in orbit since June but are due to fly back to Earth on December 20.
The first failed mission 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.