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

UPDATED: Heavy police presence in Victoria had part of Bay Street blocked off

Bay Street east of Quadra Street was blocked off on Saturday

Hundreds of foreign species still washing up on B.C. coast, eight years after tsunami

The Royal BC Museum is home to thousands of samples collected along the west coast of North America

Victoria first Canadian city to join United Nations tree planting challenge

The City of Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees by the end of 2020

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read