The International Space Station offers an unbelievably cool perspective on rocket launches, as European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst proved with three incredible photographs of a crewed Soyuz rocket that lifted off today (Dec. 3).
The launch came less than two months after a booster failure forced a Soyuz spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague to make an emergency landing.
The incident on 11 October cast a spotlight on the safety of Russia's space programme, whose fleet have suffered a number of technical failures in recent years.
The Soyuz is the only means of reaching the ISS since the U.S. retired the space shuttle in 2011.
Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques is set to blast off in a Russian Soyuz rocket launched from Kazakhstan en route to the International Space Station (ISS).
Cosmonaut Kononenko said on Sunday, Dec. 2, during a press conference, that he "absolutely" trusts the flight plan.
"Risk is part of our profession", the 54-year-old said.
"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board".
NASA and Roscosmos said all onboard systems were operating normally and the crew was feeling fine.
RFE also quoted McClain, 39, saying: "We feel very ready for it".
Saint-Jacques, 48, described the Soyuz spacecraft as "incredibly safe".
Minutes after take off, Roscosmos said the capsule was in orbit.
The families of the crew, other astronauts and space officials from several nations breathed a sigh of relief Monday after observing the flawless launch, with October's rocket failure still on the minds of many.
Kononenko is beginning his fourth mission to add to an impressive 533 days in space.
Saint-Jacques will be the first Canadian resident of the International Space Station since Chris Hadfield, who was on a five-month mission that ended in May 2013.
They're due to arrive at the ISS six hours after launch, and they'll board the station less than two hours after that. NASA's McClain was deployed to Iraq and represented the United States women's national rugby union team in the past. He recently joked Russian Federation would send a mission to the Moon to "verify" whether or not NASA lunar landings ever took place.