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Historic 500th Soyuz rocket sets off from Baikonur

The 500th Soyuz rocket has successfully lifted off from the Gagarin’s Start launchpad marking a historic milestone for Baikonur Cosmodrome. The spacecraft will deliver three new crew members to the International Space Station.

Russian and Kazakh cosmonauts (Sergey Volkov and Aidyn Aimbetov respectively), along with the first ever Danish astronaut (Andreas Mogensen) have entered history on board Soyuz TMA-18M. The 500th manned rocket launched from the same pad that Yuri Gagarin’s original Soyuz blasted off from on April 12, 1961.

500th manned flight: Milestone space mission to blast off from Gagarin's launch pad

The spacecraft will take a longer two-day route and head toward the ISS for a radar-guided rendezvous and docking on Friday September 4, at 7:42am GMT. Nine people will share the space station during the week-long crew rotation.

The flight is unusual in that the two flight engineers on board the Soyuz TMA-18M will not stay on the ISS for an extended mission, returning to Earth on September 11. The docking of the Soyuz TMA-18M will mark the conclusion of Expedition 44 and the beginning of Expedition 45.