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Baikonur Blast Off Sends Fresh Crew To International Space Station

Lift off! NASA/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption NASA/Getty Images

Lift off!

NASA/Getty Images

A trio of engineers bound for the International Space Station is in orbit around the Earth after blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz TMA-20 spaceship took off just after 2 p.m. EST (or 1 a.m. Thursday at Baikonur), carrying Russia's Dmitry Kondratyev, NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman and the European Space Agency's Paolo Nespoli of Italy.

They are scheduled to dock with the ISS on Friday and will stay on the station until May. Their stay overlaps with the current ISS crew — Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka — who return to Earth in March.

The AP's report includes this historical nugget:

The launch took off from the same pad where Russia's YuriGagarin blasted off in 1961 on his mission to become the firsthuman in space. The crew will be at the space station in April tomark the 50th anniversary of that mission.

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