Three space travellers, including two astronauts on their first flight, are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station (ISS) tomorrow for a six-and-a-half month mission.
It was the first manned launch for the Soviet-era Soyuz since 11 October, when a rocket carrying Russia's Aleksey Ovchinin and U.S. astronaut Nick Hague failed just minutes after blast-off, forcing the pair to make a harrowing emergency landing.
The United States has been relying on its services since 2001 after the space shuttle program shut down.
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.
In just a few hours, Saint-Jacques, along with fellow members of the ISS Expedition 58 crew, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, will be arriving at the International Space Station.
Speaking before the trip on Sunday, crew commander Oleg Kononenko affirmed his crew "absolutely" trusted the flight's preparation.
"Risk is part of our profession", he stated.
"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blast-off and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board". She later said she was caught off guard by her own reaction watching her colleague fulfil a lifelong dream.
It was only after the spacecraft safely entered orbit about nine minutes later, drawing the first applause from an audience watching a live NASA feed, that Thirsk admitted to some pre-launch jitters about the Canadian astronaut's mission.
NASA spokesperson Gary Johnson described the mission as "textbook launch and insertion into orbit" during the liftoff commentary.
Investigators blamed a faulty sensor which they said had been damaged during assembly at the Kazakh site.
In the time between launches, Russian Federation and NASA have investigated the cause of the accident and determined that it wouldn't be a problem during Monday's launch.
Following that accident, Russia's space agency Roscomos suspended all manned Soyuz flights, cutting off the only way to get astronauts to the ISS.
Once Saint-Jacques, McClain and Kononenko settled in to their new roles, and command of the station can be passed from Gerst to Kononenko, Gerst, Auñón-Chancellor and Prokopyev will return to Earth on December 20. She has said that training to spacewalk was similar to rugby since it demands "grit, toughness, mental focus, and more".
In recent years Russia's debt-laden space industry has suffered a number of mishaps including the loss of cargo spacecraft and satellites.