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New crew blast off to International Space Station

They docked six hours after launching from Russia.

Kazakhstan Russia Space Source: AP/Press Association Images

A US-RUSSIAN crew docked today with the International Space Station, about six hours after launching from Russia’s manned space facility in Kazakhstan.

The Russian Soyuz-TMA14M spacecraft joined up with the space laboratory as it orbited 364 kilometres above the earth.

It was carrying space veterans Alexander Samokutayev of Russia and American Barry Wilmore along with Elena Servova of Russia, making her first journey.

Kazakhstan Russia Space US astronaut Barry Wilmore, right, Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev, left, and Elena Serova Source: AP/Press Association Images

The capsule launched at 2.25am Friday (8.25pm GMT Thursday) from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.

The new crew is beginning a planned six-month deployment on the ISS, joining three others already on board.

Kazakhstan Russia Space Russian cosmonaut Elena Serova, the crew member of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS Source: AP/Press Association Images

Serova is the first Russian woman to fly to space since 1997, and the fourth woman in the history of the Soviet and Russian space programs.

Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space in 1963.

Kazakhstan Russia Space Russian cosmonaut Elena Serova, left, and U.S. astronaut Barry Wilmore Source: AP/Press Association Images

Since the retirement of the US space shuttle fleet in 2011, Russian Soyuz spacecraft have served as the only means to ferry crew to and from the space outpost, the latest price tag being $71 million per seat.

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Earlier this month, NASA made a major step toward ending the period of expensive dependence on Russian spacecraft, picking Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the station in the next few years.

The California-based SpaceX, led by billionaire Elon Musk, has indicated its seats will cost $20 million apiece.

Kazakhstan Russia Space The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-14M space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS Source: AP/Press Association Images

NASA has set a goal of 2017 for the first launch from Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX is already using its unmanned Dragon capsule to deliver supplies to the space station, and is developing its manned version.

Read: To infinity and Limerick: LIT experiment lands on International Space Station>

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