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Russian, Italian, US astronauts head for International Space Station

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, as they pose for a photograph prior to a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, pool)

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, as they pose for a photograph prior to a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran in Vienna, Austria, Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak, pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • Russia's Soyuz-FG booster rocket with the space capsule Soyuz TMA-15M that will carry a new crew to the International Space Station (ISS), at the launch pad at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.  (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)

    Russia's Soyuz-FG booster rocket with the space capsule Soyuz TMA-15M that will carry a new crew to the International Space Station (ISS), at the launch pad at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. astronaut Terry Virts, centre, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, bottom, and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, gesture prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014.  (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)

    U.S. astronaut Terry Virts, centre, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, bottom, and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, gesture prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, Nov. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

A Russian capsule carrying three astronauts from Russia, the United States and Italy has blasted off for the International Space Station.

The Soyuz capsule roared into the pre-dawn darkness just after 3 a.m. Monday (2100 GMT Sunday) from the Russian manned space facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

Aboard the capsule are Russian Anton Shkaplerov, NASA's Terry Virts and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy.

The craft will dock with the space station about six hours after launch, where they will join three others already aboard. Those include Russian Elana Serova, and Cristoforetti's arrival will make it the second time in the station's 16-year history that two women have been aboard on long-term missions.