Russian rocket Soyuz leaves for the Space Station


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MOSCOW (AP) – A Russian Soyuz rocket successfully launched on Friday with a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station, paving the way for the arrival of the next orbital crew.

The launch of the Russian Progress MS-10 refueling vessel from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan was the fourth successful launch of a Soyuz since a manned launch had to be aborted last month.

The Soyuz-FG rocket with NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Alexei Ovchinin of Roscosmos failed after a two-minute flight on Oct. 11, activating an automatic rescue system that allowed its capsule to land safely. A Russian investigation attributed the failure to a sensor that occurs during the final assembly of the rocket.

It was the first time that the Russian space program had to abort a manned launch since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts were ejected by the emergency system after an explosion on the launch pad and were also able to land safely. Currently, the Soyuz spacecraft is the only vehicle capable of transporting crews to the space station.

Since the October incident, two Soyuz rockets have been launched successfully from Plesetsk in northwestern Russia, and a third has taken off from French Guiana to place satellites in orbit. They were a different subtype of the rocket that failed in October, but what was released on Friday is the same version.

The Progress spacecraft is expected to be coupled to the Space Station on Sunday to deliver nearly three tons of food, fuel, water and other supplies to the crew of NASA's Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russian Sergei Prokopyev and German Alexander Gerst.

The crew is expected to return to Earth next month, when the substitutes arrive. It is scheduled to send astronauts Anne McClain of the United States, David Saint-Jacques of Canada, and Oleg Kononenko of Russia on 3 December.

On Thursday, at the Star City space training center outside Moscow, McClain expressed confidence in Soyuz, despite its failed launch in October.

We rely on our rocket. We're ready to fly, he said.


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