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Watch: manned Russian Soyuz launches from Kazakhstan

Three men were on board the rocket as it heads for the International Space Station where they will remain until March next year.

US astronaut Dan Burbank, left, Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, right, and Anatoly Ivanishin, centre, hold their hands against safety glass with Maksim, winner of a space poster competition, at the Baikonur cosmodrome prior to the launch.
US astronaut Dan Burbank, left, Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov, right, and Anatoly Ivanishin, centre, hold their hands against safety glass with Maksim, winner of a space poster competition, at the Baikonur cosmodrome prior to the launch.
Image: AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel

A RUSSIAN SOYUZ spacecraft has successfully launched from Kazakhstan, carrying three crew on board and heading for the International Space Station.

BBC News reports that the spacecraft is the first to travel since a similar unmanned rocket carrying cargo crashed just after it launched in August which led to all manned travel being suspended until now.

The failed launch of the Progress was blamed on a manufacturing flaw and cast doubt and the future of manned flights but another Progress took off at the end of last month, clearly the way for this latest mission.

The crew on board the rocket – two Russians and one American – lifted off from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at exactly 4.14am this morning (GMT).

Applause broke out as the crew gave the thumbs-up signal to on board cameras, the Telegraph reports.

Watch:

“We have no black thoughts and full confidence in our technology,” cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov told journalists prior to the launch.

He was joined on the mission by fellow Russian Anatoly Ivanishin and NASA astronaut Dan Burbank were preparing for the launch.

Their Soyuz craft will dock at the International Space Station on two days time. They are to arrive just in time to keep the orbiting station manned.

The three crew members there are returning to Earth on 21 November and if the new crew had not launched in time the station would have had to have been abandoned temporarily for the first time in nearly 11 years.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft serve as the only link to the space station now that NASA retired the space shuttle in July.

The 39-year-old Shkaplerov and 42-year-old Ivanishin are making their first flights into space. Burbank, 50, will take over command of the space station and is a veteran of 12-day shuttle missions in 2000 and 2006.

The three men are to remain aboard the space station until March.

- additional reporting from AP

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Hugh O'Connell

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