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International Trio Launches Mission To Space Station

19 April 2004 -- A Russian, an American, and a Dutchman successfully blasted off this morning aboard a Russian rocket on a mission to the International Space Station.

The three lifted off aboard a Soyuz rocket from Russia's launching facility at the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

They are expected to dock with the space station in two days.

Russian Gennadii Padalka and American Michael Fincke are due to become the space station's next long-term crew, replacing Aleksandr Kaleri and Michael Foale, who have been on the space station since October.

Padalka and Fincke are planned to spend six months on the orbiting space laboratory.

Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands, an astronaut for the European Space Agency, is expected to spend nine days working on the space station before returning to earth with Kaleri and Foale.