Japanese, Russian, US Crew Blasts Off to Space Station

Japanese, Russian, US Crew Blasts Off to Space StationJapanese, Russian, US Crew Blasts Off to Space Station

A trio of US and Japanese astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut blasted off from Kazakhstan on Sunday for a two-day trip to the International Space Station, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and flight engineers Norishige Kanai of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Scott Tingle of NASA lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1:21 pm local time, Reuters reported. The crew will gradually approach the station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, for two days before docking.

Shkaplerov, Kanai and Tingle will join Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, who have been aboard the orbital outpost since September.

Onboard cameras showed crew members making thumbs-up gestures after the blast-off. The group was accompanied in their Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft with a stuffed dog toy, which will be used as a zero-gravity indicator.

Soyuz was safely in orbit about 10 minutes after the launch.

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