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Soyuz blasts off on ISS mission

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The Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A NASA TV

MOSCOW (BNS): The Russian Soyuz rocket carrying three astronauts blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome early Tuesday morning and headed towards the International Space Station.

The Soyuz-FG rocket was launched at 02 hours 18 minutes 20 seconds Moscow time (2218 GMT Monday) carrying the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, named Yuri Gagarin.

The spacecraft separated from the rocket nine minutes later and reached its designated orbit, federal space agency Roscosmos said.

It is scheduled to dock with the ISS on Wednesday night after a two-day journey.

The spaceship, carrying two Russian cosmonauts and a US astronaut as expedition 27 crew members, was launched in honour of Gagarin's first manned space flight 50 years ago in 1961.

The legendary Russian cosmonaut had blasted off from the same space port in Kazakhstan on April 12, 1961. Launched on a Vostok 1 spacecraft, Gagarin made a 108-minutes long orbital rotation of the Earth, thereby becoming the first man to travel into space.

Tuesday's launch is the 109th flight of the Soyuz space capsule.

The expedition 27 crew -- cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaeva and Andrei Borisenko and NASA astronaut Ronald Garan -- will join cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratiev, ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli and NASA's Catherine Colman already present at the space station.

During their five-month stint, the crew members will conduct over 40 scientific experiments in the orbital laboratory.

The Soyuz launched Tuesday is also carrying an icon – the Lady of Kazan – presented by the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.


Soyuz  ISS  
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