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.
This was the first time people rode on one of the Russian rockets since October 11, when two and a half minutes after takeoff, one of the Soyuz MS-10's four boosters broke off, sending the aircraft spinning out of control. It is the first manned space mission since the October drama, which ended in an emergency landing after a failure mid-flight.
A Russian investigation attributed the failure to a sensor that was damaged during the rocket's final assembly.
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.
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.
This is the first spaceflight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth trip to the space station for Kononenko.
McClain, 39, served in Iraq and has represented the United States in women's rugby.
Russia-US cooperation 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.
The launch will be a test for Russia's space industry, which has suffered several high-profile crashes in recent years but remains the only reliable way to deliver crew members to the orbiting station.
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They maintained that in terms of Article 48 of the Constitution, the Cabinet stood dissolved from November 14, 2018. The order was issued in a Quo Warranto case filed by 122 Parliamentarians against Rajapaksa and his new Government.
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