One small step for Canada, one giant leap for mankind. Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques officially launched at 6:31 ET Monday morning on a Russian soyuz rocket headed for the International Space Station. Saint-Jacques' mission will end in June 2019, making it the longest space mission to date for Canada.
Saint-Jacques, NASA astronaut Anne McClain and Russia's Oleg Kononenko will spend six months at the orbiting laboratory known as the International Space Station, "supporting world-class science and time-critical operations," helping the Canadian Space Agency "make space travel safer for humans."
The Canadian Space Agency announced two new experiments that Saint-Jacques will be conducting on his mission. Immuno Profile, which investigates and monitors the astronauts' immune systems over long-duration missions, and Vascular Aging, which studies the impact of weightlessness, nutrition, physical activity and radiation on the cardiovascular system.
Saint-Jacques will also be conducting experiments related to the effects of gravity in space and how to provide remote medical care.
Today's mission comes only a few short weeks after a Russian soyuz rocket failure led to an emergency landing. The rocket was carrying two astronauts when the mission was forced to abort on October 11th.
As for today's mission, all three nations involved are confident that it will be a success, a major contribution to the "largest and most complex engineering project in human history."