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Space Station Supply Mission Underway - 2001-10-21


Two Russian cosmonauts and a French woman astronaut are one their way to the International Space Station. The three blasted off in a Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on an eight-day mission.

The Russian-French space crew blasted off on a mission to re-supply the International Space Station as well as conduct a series of space experiments.

Russian cosmonauts Viktor Afanasyev and Konstanin Kozeyev and French astronaut Claudie Haignere lifted off on schedule from the launch facility long used for Soviet and Russian space flights.

They are scheduled to dock with the space station on Tuesday.

The crew will replace the station's escape ship with their own Soyuz spacecraft, a procedure that takes place every six-months. Their craft will remain docked to the station for use in case of emergency and the crew will return to earth in the old spaceship.

Among the experiments the three will perform are tests on the human cardiovascular system in weightlessness.

Ms. Haignere spent time on the now-defunct MIR space station five years ago. She will be the first French astronaut to visit the International Space Station.

The French astronaut will serve as flight engineer and will be at the controls when the Soyuz ship docks with the station.

Ms. Haignere added a personal touch to the trip before leaving, announcing that she was bringing along books and photos as well as a teddy bear for good luck. She recently married another French astronaut whom she met while training for her trip to MIR.

The last Russian mission to the International Space Station took place earlier this year when an American businessman, Dennis Tito, became the first so-called "space tourist" by paying for the ride.

The giant station is being built and run by many countries including the United States, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Union.

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