06:13 GMT +322 October 2019
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    CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, 09 October 2018

    Astronauts Confident of Next Crewed Soyuz Mission to Space Station

    © REUTERS / Yuri Kochetkov
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    Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques says he is more confident than ever in the Russian Soyuz rocket booster which sends astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), despite a spectacular failure of the one of the rockets on October 11, about two minutes into its flight.

    Saint-Jacques was initially scheduled to fly to the ISS on December 20 for Expedition #58. However, since the last expedition was aborted, his flight date was canceled. Last week, however, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the National Space Council that he believes the next Soyuz flight will take place in December, as Russia is close to figuring out the cause of the failure of the last flight. 

    The two astronauts on the failed test flight ejected safely and were rescued unharmed.

    "This [abort] has made me feel even more confident about the way the Russians have designed the Soyuz spacecraft. It is very, very robust," Saint-Jacques said to Canadian media last week at an event at the University of Ottawa, Space.com reported Friday.

    "It's a dangerous job. We expect that there's a risk. We expect that not every launch is going to be perfect," Saint-Jacques added.

    "Of course, space is hard and things will fail. But it was very, very reassuring to see that, with such a badly-timed problem at a bad spot, even then, the crew were completely safe, the search and rescue operations were swift, and they were reunited with their families within hours. So kudos to our Russian colleagues for a safe operation," he noted.

    On October 11, an accident occurred during the liftoff of a Soyuz-FG launch vehicle carrying the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft and two new members of the ISS crew.

    The failure triggered an automatic escape system about two minutes into the flight to the ISS, sending the two-member crew — NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin — on a perilous 30-mile plunge back to Earth. The crew safely returned to Earth in the jettisoned escape capsule and made an emergency landing in Kazakhstan. 

    The first failure of a manned space launch in modern Russian history, the event is being investigated by a special commission of Russia's space agency Roscosmos.

    Saint-Jacques will soon return to Russia to complete his Soyuz training. During the next launch, there will be less crew members aboard the space station.

    "The main impact going from a standard crew of six to a standard crew of three for a long time, we can't afford to do as many science experiments as we would like to," Saint-Jacques observed, cited by the Canadian Press last week.


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