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Astronauts from the United States and Russia depart on mission to the International Space Station

Moscow – A trio of Russian and American astronauts took off on Friday for the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov departed as scheduled at 12:42 p.m. aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft from the Russian-rented Baikonur launch base. in Kazakhstan.

The capsule is scheduled to dock in the orbiting laboratory after a three-hour, two-orbital trip.

This is the second space mission for Vande Hei, the third for Novitskiy and the first for Dubrov.

During their time at the ISS, they will work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physics, and Earth science.

The launch comes three days before the 60th anniversary of the first space flight by a human, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, and the 40th anniversary of the first NASA space shuttle launch.

Already on the Space Station are NASA members Kate Rubins, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker; cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.

Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov arrived aboard another Soyuz capsule in October, and Hopkins, Glover, Walker and Noguchi – the crew of SpaceX’s Dragon Resilience Crew – joined them in November.

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