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Soyuz blasts off for International Space Station

Baikonur, Kazakhstan, July 15 (): A Russian space craft Soyuz carrying a NASA flight engineer, a Japanese astronaut and a Russian commander has blasted off for the International Space Station (ISS). The spacecraft blazed as a bright orange track through the cloudy skies above the Kazakh steppe.

The launch was planned this day to commemorate the 37th anniversary of the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz Test Project which opened door to the U.S.-Russian space cooperation.

NASA flight engineer Sunita Williams, Japan’s astronaut Akihito Hoshide and Russian cosmonaut commander Yury Malenchenko will travel for two days to reach their 3 colleagues who are already at the International Space Station.

The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft started its journey from Kazakhstan on Sunday at 02:40 GMT on Sunday. It is due to dock with the ISS’s Zvezda service module at 10:22 IST on Tuesday.

The crew of the Soyuz spacecraft will join the present ISS occupants, who are NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, Russian cosmonauts Sergei Revin and Gennady Padalka, who have been in orbit since mid-May. The crew will join

The crew will be performing a six weeks of busy activity in the orbit, with undocking, multiple dockings and a pair of exciting spacewalks on tap.

Today’s launch has taken place three weeks after the Chinese Shenzhou 9 spacecraft returned to Earth, ending a mission that put the nation’s first woman in space. China is far behind from catching Russia and the United States. The Shenzhou 9 was the China’s manned space mission for the fourth time since 2003.

Reports say, next week a Japanese cargo ship will dock with ISS, followed by additional eight craft constructing connection with the orbiting satellite.

In July 2011, Nasa concluded its space shuttle programme, and after that US astronauts have used Russian Soyuz flights to reach ISS, which costs about $60 million per person for the nation.