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Astronauts have finally taken off to the International Space Station – in the same kind of rocket that forced their colleagues to plunge to the ground in a catastrophic failure just weeks ago.

The three astronauts had said they were ready for the journey, despite the spectacular problems and the unusual comments that followed as the investigations progressed.

But this time around the journey went entirely without event, with the astronauts arriving a few hours later at the floating lab.

Astronauts Anne McClain from American space agency Nasa, David Saint-Jacques from the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos left aboard the Russian spacecraft from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The latest trip to the ISS comes after two astronauts from the US and Russia were forced to make an emergency landing on October 11, following an emergency shutdown of the three-stage booster at its second stage.

Nasa astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’s Alexei Ovchinin safely landed back on Earth in an emergency capsule shortly after taking off.

The incident was the first manned launch failure for the Russian space programme since September 1983, when a Soyuz craft exploded on the launch pad. Soviet cosmonauts Vladimir Titov and Gennady Strekalov jettisoned and landed safely near the launch pad.

“We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board,” said crew commander Kononenko in a news conference.

Additional reporting by Press Association



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