Thursday 22 February 2018

Soyuz carrying three-man crew blasts off for orbiting station

Aydyn Aimbetov, Sergei Volkov and Andreas Mogensen wave to their relatives before the launch in Kazakhstan (AP)
Aydyn Aimbetov, Sergei Volkov and Andreas Mogensen wave to their relatives before the launch in Kazakhstan (AP)
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-18M space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station blasts off from Kazakhstan (AP)

A Soyuz space craft carrying a Russian, a Dane and a Kazakh has blasted off for the International Space Station.

The rocket lifted off from a Russian launch facility in Kazakhstan on schedule.

The new three-man crew will arrive at the orbiting outpost on Friday after a two-day flight through space, bringing the number on board to nine for the first time since November 2013.

Andreas Mogensen is the first Dane in space. Russia's Sergei Volkov is following in the footsteps of his father, who 24 years ago launched into space with the first astronaut from Kazakhstan.

The Kazakh on the current mission, Aidyn Aimbetov, got his seat when British singer Sarah Brightman pulled out.

The launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, a Russian launch facility, saw "everything going flawlessly," according to a commentator on Nasa television.

It was the 500th launch of both manned and unmanned spacecraft from the launch pad used in 1961 by Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, the commentator said.

For the past two years, crews have taken a more direct, six-hour flight, but the Russian federal space agency decided last week to revert to the traditional route, citing security concerns after the International Space Station had to adjust its orbit to dodge space junk.

Mr Aimbetov and Mr Mogensen are scheduled to return to Earth on September 12 with Russian Gennady Padalka, the current station commander.

Command will then be passed to Nasa's Scott Kelly, who along with Mikhail Kornienko of Russia is spending a full year on the station to study the effects of long space travel in preparation for a possible future trip to Mars.

Press Association

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