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Three-Man Crew Blasts Off For International Space Station

A Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft is mounted on the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome on December 15.

A trio of U.S. and Japanese astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut have blasted off from Kazakhstan's steppe for a six-month mission at the International Space Station (ISS).

A Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft carrying Scott Tingle of the U.S. space agency NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Russia, and Norishige Kanai of Japan lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1:21 p.m. local time (0721 GMT/UTC) on December 17.

On December 17, the spacecraft is due to dock at the space station, which is orbiting 400 kilometers above the Earth.

Tingle, Shkaplerov, and Kanai will join Russia's Aleksandr Misurkin and Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, who have been aboard the ISS since September.

Shkaplerov is on his third mission to the ISS, while it is the first space flight for both Tingle and Kanai.

On December 14, a capsule brought back a three-man crew from Russia, the United States, and Italy from the ISS.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP