The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz MS-11 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko‚Äé and CSA astronaut David Saint Jacques. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky)

Canadian astronaut lifts off on Russian rocket to International Space Station

The last Canadian astronaut to visit the space station was Chris Hadfield, who was on a five-month mission that ended in May 2013

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques blasted through the skies over Kazakhstan early Monday in what appeared to be a seamless launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket bound for the International Space Station.

The 48-year-old doctor and astronaut lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome with Anne McClain of NASA and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.

The launch of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft appeared to go exactly as planned at the precise liftoff time of 6:31 a.m. Eastern.

“We have liftoff,” a commentator said on NASA television as the rocket roared into the sky under 930 pounds of thrust and a speed of 1,770 kilometres per hour. “Everything looking good, vehicle is stable — good first stage performance.”

The crew reported that all went well in those critical initial minutes after liftoff and were safely in orbit.

Back on Canadian soil, a crowd monitored the launch from the Canadian Space Agency in Longueuil, Que., as the rocket began its roughly six-hour transit to the space station.

RELATED: US, Russian astronauts safe after emergency landing in October

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains praised the successful takeoff and said the mission offers an exciting opportunity for scientific research and developments that could have broad applications, in such things as robotics and aging.

“Space represents a lot of opportunities for a lot of Canadians,” he said at the agency office. “It really is inspirational what David represents…today is an incredible day in space.”

Astronaut Jenni Sidey-Gibbons echoed the message, saying Saint-Jacques was a special role model for her and other young people who may be considering a future in space.

“That was particularly important for me when I was growing up and I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for Canada’s early space program and, kind of, the heroes that pushed that forward,” she said. “It’s incredible.”

It was the first manned Russian rocket launch since a dramatic aborted Soyuz failure in October.

RELATED: Canadian astronaut who flew to space but faced biggest challenges on solid ground

On Oct. 11, a rocket failure forced a Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts to abort and make an emergency landing.

Russia suspended all manned space launches pending an investigation before giving the green light Nov. 1.

Saint-Jacques has spent years training for the six-month mission, which was originally scheduled for Dec. 20 but was moved up after the aborted Soyuz launch.

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.

Former astronaut Robert Thirsk said the schedule will be especially busy for the trio.

“Every five-minute increment of our life is scheduled, and that will be the same for David also,” he said at the space agency office. “The challenge for him will be to pace himself to accomplish the work that’s expected of him.”

It was expected the crowd on the ground watching the liftoff in Kazakhstan would include members of Saint-Jacques’ family as well as Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, herself a former astronaut.

Payette, who completed missions to the space station in 1999 and 2009, had said the most dangerous moments come immediately following the launch as the rocket passes through several “critical zones” on its way into space.

The last Canadian astronaut to visit the space station was Chris Hadfield, who was on a five-month mission that ended in May 2013.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Alberni Valley firefighters pass the boot for Muscular Dystrophy

Annual fundraiser started in 1967 with Port Alberni Fire Department

Cougars spotted in Sproat Lake neighbourhoods

ACRD director warns residents to keep children, pets close

Who are the Frozen Franklins? Find out at the Alberni Valley Museum

The museum and Echoes in the Ice exhibit are open April 20 during Easter weekend

Former teacher returns to Port Alberni to lead Alzheimer’s Walk

Jory Mitchell celebrates his journey with late wife and her Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve issues cougar warning at Kennedy Lake

Cougar encounter reported between Tofino and Ucluelet.

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

RCMP confirm witnesses say body found at Kelowna’s Gyro Beach

Police tape is blocking part of the beach and several RCMP officers are on scene.

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

Most Read