Three astronauts — including two radio amateurs — have docked at the International Space Station (ISS) on the first crewed Soyuz vehicle launch since a dramatic failure in October. The astronauts the US, Canada, and Russia, left Kazakhstan at 1130 UTC on December 3, and the Russian space agency Roscomos confirmed their successful docking at the station. On board were David Saint-Jacques, KG5FYI, a Canadian engineer, astrophysicist, and medical doctor; space veteran Oleg Kononenko, RN3DX, of Russia, and Anne McClain, of the US. Investigators have blamed a faulty sensor, said to have been damaged during assembly in Kazakhstan. Crew commander Kononenko said his crew recognized the risks of spaceflight as part of their profession and expressed confidence in the flight preparation.
The three-person crew’s mission was originally set for later this month, but officials moved up the date to avoid leaving the space station unstaffed, when the current ISS crew of cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev and astronauts Serena Auñón-Chancellor, KG5TMT, and Alexander Gerst, KF5ONO, return to Earth on December 20.
Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Nick Hague, KG5TMV, who was on the aborted October 11 Soyuz launch, is getting ready for another try. Hague, NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are scheduled to launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome on February 28 aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft.