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Soyuz Capsule Heads For International Space Station

  • RFE/RL

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is transported from an assembling hangar to the launch site ahead of its trip to the International Space Station.

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft is transported from an assembling hangar to the launch site ahead of its trip to the International Space Station.

A Soyuz capsule has blasted off from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome, carrying a three-person crew headed for the International Space Station.

The capsule lifted off from the steppes of western Kazakhstan early on November 18 local time, carrying Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and NASA's Peggy Whitson.

The craft is expected to meet up with the orbiting station over the weekend.

The three Soyuz travelers will join the existing station crew: American Shane Kimbrough and Russians Ryzhikov and Borisenko, who have been aboard the complex since October.

Whitson, Novitsky, and Pesquet will remain aboard the station until next spring, while the existing crew will return to Earth in late February.

Russian spacecraft have been the main vehicles for ferrying crews and supplies to the station since 2011, when the United States grounded its space shuttle fleet.

Two private U.S. companies have also flown cargo resupply missions: Space X and Orbital ATK.

Despite acrimonious relations between Washington and Moscow, space exploration and travel remains one of the few areas in which the two countries continue to cooperate.

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