Back on track: Russia’s manned Soyuz heads to ISS

A Russian Soyuz rocket has successfully launched, taking a three-person crew to man the International Space Station after a two-month delay caused by technical problems.

­Two Russian cosmonauts, Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, along with NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, blasted into space from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

This is the first manned Soyuz flight after a rocket full of supplies crashed during liftoff in August. Although the crew were ready to blast off on September 22, the mission was delayed over safety fears. It was decided to postpone the manned mission pending further tests. After another Progress rocket was successfully launched on October 30, it was deemed safe to go ahead. For NASA’s Burbank it is the first voyage on board a Soyuz spacecraft, while both Russian cosmonauts are making their maiden space voyage.

The Soyuz craft will dock with the International Space Station on Wednesday. NASA’s Mike Fossum, Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa and Russia’s Sergey Volkov will welcome the fresh crew when they arrive at the ISS on the morning of November 16. Burbank will take over as commander of the ISS in a ceremony on Sunday.

The current crew, who have been working on the station since the beginning of June, are  scheduled to return to Earth on Monday.

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