Three astronauts who were launched into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft Monday entered the International Space Station almost eight hours later, a relief to relatives and scientists months after a rocket failure aborted another mission.
If all goes to plan, the spacecraft is due to dock at the ISS at just after 5.30pm tonight - six hours after lift-off.
MOSCOW: The first manned Soyuz flight since a failed launch in October successfully docked at the International Space Station on Monday, Russia's space agency Roscosmos said.
Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques smiled and gave thumbs up to the cheering crowd including relatives as they ascended into the Soyuz capsule.
Speaking before the trip on Sunday, crew commander Oleg Kononenko affirmed his crew "absolutely" trusted the flight's preparation.
Three astronauts have successfully blasted off to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan, a ideal launch that follows October's aborted mission.
"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board", the 54-year-old said.
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The incident became the first failure of a manned space launch in modern Russian history.
The launch was closely scrutinised because of the abortive mission to the ISS on October 11, which ended two minutes after take-off when a rocket failure forced its two-man crew to perform an emergency landing.
The United States has been relying on its services since 2001 after the space shuttle program shut down.
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.
Ms McClain, a former military pilot, said the crew "feel very ready" for their mission.
Since the October mishap, four successful unmanned Soyuz satellite launches have been conducted to clear the path for the crew's launch on Monday.
Russian Federation suspended all manned space launches pending an investigation before giving the green light November 1.
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" on board in 2013.