Trio of astronauts blast off to international space station

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A trio of astronauts from Russia, the United States and the European Space Agency has blasted off for a mission on the International Space Station.

A spacecraft carrying Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Sergey Prokopyev of Russian space agency Roscosmos and the ESA's Alexander Gerst, from Germany, lifted off as scheduled from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket at 1612 local time (1112 GMT) Wednesday. The Soyuz ship is set to dock at the orbiting outpost Friday.

The three astronauts will join Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold of NASA and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, who are currently on the station. The mission program includes 250 experiments in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology.