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American, Russian cheered as they reach International Space Station
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John Glenn spacecraft arrives
American, Russian arrive at International Space Station
20 April 2017, 07:22 | Bernard Bryant
US-Russian crew blasts off for space station with one empty seat
Taking off from the same launch pad that Yuri Gagarin used to become the first man in space, the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft thundered to life at 3:13:44 a.m. EDT, roughly the moment Earth's rotation carried the rocket into the plane of the space station's orbit.
This is the first two-person launch to the ISS in more than a decade, with Russian Federation scaling back its space station staffing until a much-delayed science laboratory is flown to the $100bn (£78bn) space station next year.
The other notable aspect of Thursday's launch is the size of the crew-two rather than three.
A Soyuz space capsule on Thursday safely delivered an American astronaut making his first space flight and a veteran Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station.
The workhorse booster quickly climbed away, arcing to the East as it set off on a tightly choreographed rendezvous to catch up with the space station, which passed 250 miles directly above the launch site three minutes before liftoff. The two join Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency).
A voice-over from NASA Communication says: "There's a great view of that dog - you can see it's floating now - so the crew member's now exposed to that micro-gravity environment".
When dying from cancer, Fischer said, his father encouraged him to pursue his dream of becoming an astronaut.
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That trio has been in space for more than 150 days on its current mission and is scheduled to return to Earth in June.
On Monday, Station commander Peggy Whitson is due to beat the 534-day record for cumulative time spent in space by a USA astronaut. The Russian rocket carries US astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin.
She will be called by President Donald Trump.
According to NASA, Fischer is a first-time space flier, whereas Yurchikhin is a veteran of four spaceflights.
She will return to earth in early September with both Fischer and Yurchikhin after NASA chose to extend her stay in space by three months. She returns to Earth in September.
Russian Federation is now the only country executing manned space flights to the ISS, despite its space industry having suffered a string of setbacks and launch failures in recent years.
The ISS laboratory, a rare example of American and Russian global cooperation, has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,000 miles per hour) since 1998.
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