Russian Soyuz lifts new crew to space station

Updated: 2015-07-23 09:13


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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a three-man crew bound for the International Space Station blasted off on Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

The 16-story rocket lifted off at 5:02 pm EDT (2102 GMT) to deliver veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and rookie astronauts Kjell Lindgren with NASA and Japan's Kimiya Yui into orbit. They are due to reach the station, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 260 miles (418 km) above Earth, at 10:46 pm EDT (0246 GMT).

The trio had been set to fly in May, but Russia delayed the mission after a botched launch of a similar Soyuz rocket on April 28. That accident stranded a Progress cargo ship in an orbit too low to reach the station. Nine days later, the capsule, loaded with three tons of equipment and supplies, fell back into Earth's atmosphere and was incinerated.

Accident investigators determined that the Progress failed to separate properly from the Soyuz rocket's third-stage engine. The Soyuz returned to flight on July 3, successfully launching a replacement load of cargo to the station.