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NASA launches Expedition 23 to ISS

Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft blasts off the Baikonur space center on Friday. A NASA TV Photo.

BAIKONUR (BNS): NASA Friday launched Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 0404 GMT (0804 hours Moscow time).

NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko, all flight engineers on borad the spacecraft will be on a two-day journey to the International Space Station.

They will join Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, US astronaut Timothy Creamer, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and spend six months in the orbital station on a resupply and restaffing mission.

Less than 10 minutes after launch, their spacecraft reached orbit and its antennas and solar arrays were deployed, according to A NASA news report.

The Soyuz TMA-18 spacecraft will dock to the station on April 4 at 0526 GMT (0926 hours Moscow time), the space agency said.

Space shuttle Discovery and the STS-131 crew are set to launch April 5 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and dock with the orbital laboratory April 7.

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