KENNEDY SPACE CENTER — Three astronauts successfully launched Monday morning on a Soyuz rocket, the first crewed launch of this type of rocket since an issue forced an emergency landing back in October.
- American, Canadian and Russian space explorers launched from Kazakhstan
- OSIRIS-Rex arrives at Bennus asteroid Monday at noon
- RELATED stories:
NASA astronaut Anne McClain, along with Canada's David Saint-Jacques and Russia's Oleg Kononenko, launched from Kazakhstan at 6:31 a.m. ET Monday for a 6-and-a-half-month mission at the International Space Station.
The crew boarded the ISS around 2:30 p.m. There will now be six crewmembers onboard the ISS.
It was the first manned launch of a Soyuz since October 11, when NASA astronaut Nick Hague and a Russian cosmonaut had to abort their mission, just two minutes after launch because of a damaged sensor on the rocket.
The pair made an emergency landing and made it back to Earth in good health.
Even before they launched, McClain said she was confident in the rocket.
"You know going to space is not easy, the crew in October was lucky, but so is every crew that has flown in space over the last 50 years, 60 years," said McClain. "And I'm very familiar with the rocket, with the redundancy of their systems, and with their safety systems and I'll be frank with you, I would have gotten on a rocket the day after that happened."
It is a busy day for NASA, but now the agency's attention turns to 185,000 miles away from Earth at asteroid Bennu.
That is where a spacecraft that launched from the Space Coast two years ago arrived on Monday.
OSIRIS-REx will spend nearly a year studying the asteroid before it reaches out and collects a sample. The spacecraft will then bring that piece of asteroid down to Earth in 2023 for analysis that could help understand more about asteroids and their potential impacts on Earth.
On Tuesday, SpaceX is preparing to launch a Falcon 9 rocket with a Dragon cargo capsule with science experiments and supplies for the ISS.
Tuesday's launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is set for 1:38 pm ET.