It was the first time people ride on the Soyuz after the vehicle broke apart mid-flight in October with two passengers on board. The Soyuz has launched successfully four times since the accident. However, it has only launched once in the same configuration as the Soyuz that failed, a version of the rocket known as the Soyuz FG. Prior to the failure, the Soyuz FG had a 100 percent success rating since it first launched in 2001.
Since Hague and Ovchinin did not make it to the ISS as planned, Roscosmos moved up today’s flight to ensure that the station didn’t have a deficit of crew members for long. The current crew on the ISS arrived at the ISS in early June in a Soyuz capsule. Kononenko, McClain and Saint-Jacques will then become the Expedition 58 crew when the ISS’ current inhabitants depart for Earth on December 20th. The success of the launch was needed to avoid the station to be left temporarily abandoned by the end of the year, for the first time in its 18-year history. The station is capable of operating unmanned for long periods, with many systems able to operate automatically or by control from the ground. Fortunatelly, the Soyuz is considered one of the most reliable space rockets in history.