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20 Dec, 2009 21:52

Soyuz TMA-17 blasts off from Baikonur launch pad

Astronauts launched for Christmas space mission, bringing space station's permanent crew to 5.

The spacecraft was launched at 00:52 from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan and separated from the Soyuz-FG booster on schedule at 1:01 Moscow time [22:01 Sunday GMT].

It is scheduled to dock with the ISS in its automated mode at 1:52 on Wednesday [22:52 Tuesday GMT].

The spacecraft carries Russia's Oleg Kotov, NASA's Timothy Creamer and Japan's Soichi Noguchi, who are to join the current ISS crew of U.S. astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian Maxim Surayev.

Russian space expert Yury Karash described to RT what the astronauts experienced during lift-off.