Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques is on his way to the International Space Station.
Together with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and U.S. astronaut Anne McClain, he blasted into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket at 6:31 a.m. (ET) from the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.
Among those on hand for the event were Dr. Saint-Jacques’s family and Governor-General Julie Payette.
“David is an astronaut now – he’s in orbit,” said former Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk as a packed auditorium erupted in applause at Canadian Space Agency headquarters in Longueuil, near Montreal, where a few hundred were gathered to view the launch remotely.
The flight marks the first trip to space for a CSA astronaut since Chris Hadfield last blasted off from the same location six years ago. It is also a crucial return to flight for Soyuz after a malfunction forced a midair abort during a launch in October.
Dr. Saint-Jacques and his crewmates are now into a four-orbit trip around the planet that is designed to put them in a position to dock with the space station about 12:35 p.m. Monday, followed by a hatch opening two hours later.
Watch: If you missed the launch, here’s a recap of the Soyuz rocket’s takeoff from Kazakhstan on Monday morning.
How a shuttle launches: A visual guide
What happens next?
Space exploration as we know it is about to change dramatically. Since the end of the U.S. shuttle program in 2011, Russia’s Soyuz modules have been astronauts’ only route to the ISS. But SpaceX and Boeing are each aiming to send their first manned test flights to the station next year, further paving the way for privately run spaceflight and space research. The ISS’s partners are also planning to build a new outpost around the moon, a staging ground for missions deeper into space than robot probes or humans have ever gone before. Learn more about Dr. Saint-Jacques’s part in the new era of space exploration in our multimedia feature about his background, training and the kind of science he’ll be working on at the space station.
Watch: Science reporter Ivan Semeniuk outlines the important choice Canada needs to make to participate in the Lunar Gateway or be shut out by other international partners.
The Globe and Mail, December 3, 2018