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Soyuz rocket heads to International Space Station

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The Soyuz rocket in its launch pad. A NASA Photo

BAIKONUR (AP): A Russian rocket carrying a three-person US-Russian crew to the International Space Station has blasted off successfully from Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz TMA-19, launched early Wednesday local time, is carrying US astronauts Douglas Wheelock and Shannon Walker and Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin to the international orbiting laboratory for a mission lasting about six months.

The trio will be onboard the space station to see the final shuttle, the Endeavour depart from its last planned mission to the lab in November before the fleet is finally retired.

With the shuttle being phased out, the venerable Soyuz rocket will take over as the only means by which astronauts will be able to travel to the space station.

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