Russia launches manned mission to ISS (Lead)

December 21st, 2011 - 10:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Dec 21 (IANS) Russia Wednesday launched a manned mission to the International Space Sation (ISS) from its Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft carrying three astronauts blasted off at 1316 GMT, the Roscosmos space agency said.

The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 1522 GMT Friday, Xinhua reported.

The crew to the ISS includes Oleg Kononenko from Russia, Andre Kuipers from the European Space Agency (ESA) and Donald Pettit from NASA.

The trio will join Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoli Ivanishin from Russia and Daniel Burbank from NASA at the ISS and spend some 147 days in space.

According to Roscosmos, the enlarged ISS crew would conduct some 70 experiments and a space walk Feb 14.

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