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Rocket carrying Emirati, Russian, American blasts off for ISS

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BAIKONUR (AFP): A rocket blasted off from the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan on Wednesday with an Emirati on board who will be the first Arab on the International Space Station.

The Soyuz rocket carrying the three-member crew -- including Hazzaa al-Mansoori of the United Arab Emirates -- blasted off as scheduled at 1357 GMT.

Mansoori, 35, is accompanied by Russia's Oleg Skripochka and NASA astronaut Jessica Meir.

They are expected to dock at the station just under six hours after launch.

"Everything continues to go smoothly for this ride," a commentator said on NASA television seven minutes after the launch.

Russia's Roscosmos space agency said on Twitter that the spacecraft had successfully reached orbit.

Mansoori received support from around the world before what he described as his "dream" mission.

He was seen showing his fist in the air before the launch.

He will spend eight days on the ISS and will be the first Emirati and the first Arab on the orbiting laboratory, but not the first Muslim.

Skripochka, first-time flyer Meir and Mansoori will join a six-member crew on the ISS and for a brief period of time the ISS will be home to nine astronauts.

The International Space Station -- a rare example of cooperation between Russia and the West -- has been orbiting Earth at about 28,000 kilometres per hour (17,000 miles per hour) since 1998.

Tags:

ISS  Rocket  Emirati  Russian  American  
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