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Soyuz rocket carrying Russian-US-German crew blasts off for International Space Station

A Russian rocket carrying a three-man crew to the International Space Station has blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz booster rocket lifted off as scheduled at 1:57 a.m. Thursday (1957GMT Wednesday) and soared into the darkness over the Central Asian steppe.

The crew — NASA's Reid Wiseman, Russian cosmonaut Max Surayev and German Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency — are set to dock at the station less than six hours later. They are scheduled to stay in orbit for six months.