Astronaut Crew Scheduled to Handle SpaceX Spacecraft Operations Reaches ISS

Anne McClain Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos and David Saint Jacques          NASA  Victor Zelentsov

The crew, which also includes David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos, will man the ISS for six-and-a-half months.

"We have confirmation of the spacecraft separation; Soyuz capsule and crew safely in orbit", NASA TV said online in its blow-by-blow commentary of the take-off.

These crewmembers will be aboard the ISS during the first test flights of the NASA Commercial Crew Program that will see astronauts being able to get into space from the U.S. for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet, assuming test flights go well.

Russian investigators blamed that malfunction, which occurred as the first and second stages of a booster rocket separated, on a damaged sensor.

The crewmembers of the manned Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft that docked to the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday evening has entered the station after pressure inside the spaceship and the station was equalized, a spokesman for the mission control center said. Administrator Jim Bridenstine named the first group of astronauts to fly on the commercial spacecraft by SpaceX and Boeing to the ISS.

Saint-Jacques is the first Canadian resident of the International Space Station since Chris Hadfield, who was on a five-month mission that ended in May 2013. Kononenko, 54, said during a press conference on the eve of the launch that "risk is part of our profession". They joined the three crew members who have been aboard since June: NASA's Serena Auñón-Chancellor, ESA's Alexander Gerst, and Roscosmos's Sergey Prokopyev. During his stay on the ISS, he will perform a number of works and 48 scientific experiments. The experiment is using worms to understand muscle loss in space.

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McClain served in Iraq and has represented the United States at women's rugby.

Russia-US co-operation in space has remained one of the few areas not affected by a crisis in ties between the former Cold War enemies.

But comments by the combative chief of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, have increasingly raised eyebrows.

Next year, however, Russian Federation will see intense global competition.

Earlier, the spacewalk to inspect the Soyuz spacecraft's hole was planned for November 15 and Russian cosmonauts Prokopyev and Ovchinin were expected to have carried it out but Ovchinin did not travel to the ISS due to the Soyuz abortive launch on October 11.

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