Soyuz space capsule carrying 3 astronauts blasts off to orbiting lab

As astronaut who graduated from the University of Tennessee will spend the next four months on the International Space Station.

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three new crew members for the International Space Station (ISS) is all set to launch this Friday, officials have announced.

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NASA's Randy Bresnik, Russia's Sergei Ryazansky and Italy's Paolo Nespoli blasted off from the Russia-leased launch pad in Kazakhstan at 21:41 p.m. Friday.

The crew will orbit Earth four times en route to the spacecraft's arrival and docking to the space station's Rassvet module, at 6 p.m. Tune in at 5:15 p.m.to NASA Television or the agency's website to watch the docking live.

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In April, Whitson clinched the record for most days in space by an American when she clocked up a cumulative 534 days.

Throughout the NASA broadcast, Public Affairs spokesperson Dan Huot said ground control in Houston and Moscow were "continuing to get good reports", and confirmed "we had a successful launch".

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The spacecraft will take a almost 6½ hours to reach the space station's Rassvet module. Nespoli is an Italian astronaut with the European Space Agency (ESA). This is his second space mission, following a 2009 mission on the space shuttle Atlantis. The crew will work on more than 250 experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.


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