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Soyuz Capsule Carries Three New Crew To International Space Station

The Russian Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft blasts off from the Baikonur cosmodrome on November 18.

A Russian spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station on November 19, carrying three crew members for a six-month mission at the orbiting outpost.

Oleg Novitskiy of Russia, Peggy Whitson of the United States, and Thomas Pesquet of France set off on November 17 in a Russian-designed Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan.

The arrival of the trio brings the total staff to six at the International Space Station, where they will accompany Russians Andrei Borisenko and Sergei Ryzhikov and American Shane Kimbrough.

The crew will contribute to hundreds of scientific experiments being carried out in the fields of biology and the physical sciences.

Russia's Soyuz capsules offer the only way for international astronauts to reach the orbiting outpost after the American space shuttle program was retired in 2011.

Private industries including SpaceX and Boeing are designing spacecraft to ferry astronauts from U.S. soil. Their first flights are not expected until late 2017 or in 2018.

Based on reporting by AFP and dpa