3 astronauts set to launch to space station on Monday, says NASA

From bottom Oleg Kononenko Anne Mc Clain and David Saint Jacques board their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft in Kazakhstan on Monday

From bottom Oleg Kononenko Anne Mc Clain and David Saint Jacques board their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft in Kazakhstan on Monday

It was the first manned launch for the Soviet-era Soyuz since October 11, when a rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and United States (US) astronaut Nick Hague failed just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make an emergency landing.

NASA's Anne McClain, the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko reached orbit minutes after the smooth launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:31 a.m. PT.

The Soyuz spacecraft is now the only vehicle that can ferry crews to the space station, but Russian Federation stands to lose that monopoly in the coming years with the arrival of SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's Starliner crew capsules.

The Soyuz accident in October was the first aborted crew launch for the Russian space program since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts safely jettisoned after a launch pad explosion.

Russian Federation suspended all manned space launches pending an investigation before giving the green light November 1.

Nasa made reassurances about their continued co-operation with and trust in the Russian programme following the incident.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, herself a former astronaut, was also among those watching the launch in Kazakhstan.

By the end of his 6 1/2-month space mission, Saint-Jacques, 48, will have set a record for longest space trip for a Canadian - a record now held by Thirsk.

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Aboard the station, he will conduct a number of science experiments, with some focusing on the physical effects of the weak gravity astronauts experience in orbit as well as how to provide remote medical care.

Thirsk is no stranger to long-duration space flight.

They successfully docked at the ISS on schedule at 1736 GMT to begin an expected six and a half months aboard the ISS, the Russian Roscosmos space agency said via Twitter.

Thirsk, 65, said he advised Saint-Jacques not to forget to take some time for himself.

Three astronauts who launched into space aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft have entered the International Space Station after spending almost eight hours in their tiny capsule.

"What he's doing right now is incredible - very few people have ever done it".

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques boarded the International Space Station Monday afternoon, declaring himself "astounded" by the journey and excited for the discoveries ahead of him.

She has said that training to spacewalk resembled the sport since it demands "grit, toughness, mental focus, and more". "We don't know where we're going to go or what we're going to find, but it's going to be interesting".

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