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21 Dec, 2011 13:20

Russia’s Soyuz rocket takes three spacemen to ISS

A Russian Soyuz rocket has been successfully launched from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The rocket, carrying an international crew of three, has reached its designated orbit as it makes its way to the International Space Station.

The crew comprises Russian Oleg Kononenko, Andre Kuipers from the European Space Agency and NASA astronaut Donald Pettit. Their mission at the ISS will last almost five months. The spacemen told RT they would celebrate Christmas and New Year onboard the ISS, but their primary task is to conduct over 100 experiments and do engineering research. One of the experiments involves growing dust crystals in conditions of zero gravity.The Soyuz ship is expected to dock with the International Space Station on Friday. The new crew will join two Russian cosmonauts, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin and NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, who arrived at the ISS in mid-November.This is the second manned Soyuz flight after a cargo ship loaded with tons of supplies for the ISS crashed to Earth in August. The accident disrupted the schedule of flights to the ISS and cut the mission of Kononenko, Kuipers and Pettit.Since the United States suspended its shuttle flights earlier this year, the Soyuz spaceship has been the only means of delivering space crews to the ISS.