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Brazil to Send First Astronaut into Space

Brazil is preparing to send its first astronaut into space Thursday aboard a Russian spacecraft.

Marcos Pontes will accompany Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov and American astronaut Jeffrey Williams, who are scheduled to launch from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

They are heading to the International Space Station, where Pontes will spend nine days before returning to earth with the current Russian-U.S. crew. They have been in orbit for six months.

Pontes said Thursday he plans to take the Brazilian flag with him, along with some items to commemorate the first airplane flight 100 years ago of his countryman Alberto Santos Dumont, who is seen in Brazil as the father of aviation.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.