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U.S.-Russian Crew Blasts Off To Space Station

The Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft is taken by train to the launch pad in Baikonur ahead of the launch.
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan -- A Russian rocket carrying a three-person U.S.-Russian crew to the International Space Station has blasted off successfully from Kazakhstan.

The trio will be onboard the space station to see the final shuttle -- the Endeavour -- depart from its last planned mission to the lab in November before the fleet is finally retired.

The Soyuz rocket will then take over as the only means to transport astronauts to the space station. That has raised some concerns about the long-term viability of the Soviet-designed craft.

A successor to the space shuttle program is expected to launch in 2015 at the earliest.

compiled from agency reports