Astronauts from Russia, the US and Canada onboard the Soyuz MS-11 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan bound for the International Space Station today at 6:31 a.m. EST.
The crew are safely in orbit and will be welcomed aboard at 2:36 p.m.
At the time of the launch, the ISS was flying about 250 miles over central Kazakhstan southwest of the capital of Astana, 405 miles ahead of the Soyuz as it leaves the launch pad.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian Space Agency representative David Saint-Jacques and Oleg Konenenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will spend the next six and a half months in international the space lab.
The #Exp58 crew is safely in orbit! I’m grateful to Director General Dmitry Rogozin and the entire @NASA and @roscosmos teams for their dedication to making this launch a success. Ad Astra! pic.twitter.com/lXENvE0N6e— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) December 3, 2018
ISS will host six crew until Dec 20
McClain, Saint-Jacques, and Konenenko will join Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, who will train the new crew until their departure on December 20.
This is the first spaceflight for both McClain and Saint-Jacques and the fourth trip to the space station for Kononenko.
LIFTOFF! Shooting into the sky at 6:31am ET, the Soyuz rocket carrying @AstroAnnimal, @Astro_DavidS and Oleg Kononenko leaves Earth on six-hour journey to their new home on @Space_Station. Watch: https://t.co/i3hRugl4X4pic.twitter.com/xrgYvSg8UQ— NASA (@NASA) December 3, 2018
The SpaceX Dragon cargo resupply spacecraft will launch on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will carry over 5,800 pounds of critical research and supplies for the incoming crew.
It is the first attempt to send astronauts to space after a mission in October that saw two crew members only narrowly escape after being forced to make an emergency landing just minutes after take-off.
Safety investigation found fault with the sensor
Investigations into the close-call pointed the finger at a faulty sensor that was assembled at the Kazakh site. It’s been a massive end of the year for NASA.
Last week they successfully landed the Insight Lander Probe on Mars and then followed that up with the historic announcement of new commercial partners who will collaborate with the agency for future Moon missions.
NASA ends 2018 with a flurry of successful missions and announcements
Later today the agency's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is scheduled to rendezvous with its targeted asteroid, Bennu.
NASA explains the mission: "OSIRIS-REx launched in September 2016 and has been slowly approaching Bennu.
The spacecraft will spend almost a year surveying the asteroid with five scientific instruments with the goal of selecting a location that is safe and scientifically interesting to collect the sample.
OSIRIS-REx will return the sample to Earth in September 2023."