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Russia successfully launches Soyuz spacecraft

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Previous launch of Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. NASA photo

MOSCOW (BNS): Russia successfully launched its Soyuz-FG booster rocket on Wednesday, carrying a TMA-15 spacecraft and three astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, the mission control said.

"The launch went to schedule. The craft is due to dock with the ISS on May 29 at 12:36 GMT in automatic regime," RIA Novosti quoted a spokesperson as saying Wednesday.

The 20th Expedition crew comprises flight engineer Frank De Winne from the European Space Agency, Robert Thirsk from the Canadian Space Agency and Russia's Roman Romanenko.

Six crew members of ISS will receive and unload three Russian Progress craft and a Japanese HTV-1 space freighter. Two space walks and a series of scientific experiments will be carried out in 180-day mission.

The head of Russia's Federal Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov, earlier described the mission as unique, saying that "representatives of five countries - Russia, the United States, Canada, Japan and Belgium - will for the first time work at the station simultaneously."

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