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Rocket carrying crew of 3 blasts off for Int'l Space Station

  • Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, bottom, and U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, wave near the rocket prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)

    Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, bottom, and U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, wave near the rocket prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, above, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, bottom, and U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, wave near the rocket prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)

    French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, above, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, bottom, and U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, wave near the rocket prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Shamil Zhumatov, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

  • U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), gestures from a bus prior the launch of Soyuz MS-3 space ship at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool)

    U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, member of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), gestures from a bus prior the launch of Soyuz MS-3 space ship at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

A Soyuz rocket carrying a veteran American astronaut, a French newcomer and a Russian cosmonaut has blasted off for the International Space Station.

The crew of NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russia's Oleg Novitskiy and France's Thomas Pesquet lifted off as scheduled from the Russia-leased launch facility in Kazakhstan at 2:20 a.m. on Friday (2020 GMT, 4:20 p.m. Thursday).

Whitson who will celebrate her 57th birthday in February on the International Space Station could become the oldest woman in space, adding to her long list of barrier-breaking records. This will be the third ISS mission for Whitson, an Iowa-born biochemist, and her second stint as commander.

Whitson is riding the Soyuz with the 45-year-old experienced Russian cosmonaut and the French astronaut who is making his maiden flight into space.