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Russian Rocket Lifts Crew To International Space Station

Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko during pre-flight training before the launch.
A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying three cosmonauts and astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) has lifted off from Kazakhstan's Baikonour space center.

The launch took place on schedule. Those on board comprised Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, as well as the astronauts Andre Kuipers and Don Pettit of the Netherlands and United States, respectively.

They will join American mission commander Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoli Ivanishin, who departed Earth for the ISS on November 21.

The Russian national space agency Roscosmos said the six astronauts aboard the ISS will perform "standard" station research and maintenance.

Kononenko and Shkaplerov are scheduled to perform a space walk in February.

Since the retirement of the U.S. Space Shuttle in July, Russia's Soyuz booster is the only means by which astronauts can reach the ISS.

compiled from agency reports