US, Russian, Japanese crew blasts off for space station

Reuters

Posted at Dec 17 2017 04:01 PM

Members of the International Space Station expedition 54/55, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov (C), NASA astronaut Scott Tingle (R) and Norishige Kanai (L) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during the send-off ceremony after checking their space suits before the launch of the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, Sunday. Maxim Shipenkov, Pool/Reuters

A trio of US and Japanese astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut blasted off from Kazakhstan on Sunday for a 2-day trip to the International Space Station, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and flight engineers Norishige Kanai of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Scott Tingle of NASA lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1:21 p.m. local time. 

The crew will gradually approach the station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, for 2 days before docking.

Shkaplerov, Kanai and Tingle will join Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, who have been aboard the orbital outpost since September.

Onboard cameras showed crew members making thumbs-up gestures after the blast-off. Also visible was a stuffed dog toy chosen by Shkaplerov's daughter to be the spacecraft's zero-gravity indicator.

Soyuz was safely in orbit about 10 minutes after the launch.