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US, Russian Scientists Heading to International Space Station

FILE - In this handout photo released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos, the Soyuz MS-17 space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station (ISS) blasts off at the Russian-leased Baikonur space facility in Kazakhstan, Oct. 14, 2020.

A U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) Friday for a six-month mission.

NASA’s Mark Vande Hei and Russians Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov blasted off as scheduled on board of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The three were launched in a capsule named in honor of Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who became the first person in space 60 years ago, on April 12, 1961.

The mission also marks the 40th anniversary of NASA’s first space shuttle launch.

Their journey to the station takes about three hours and includes two Earth orbits.

Vande Hei, Novitskiy and Dubrov will work on biology, biotechnology and Earth science experiments during their stay at the ISS.

NASA's Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov are set to return from the space station on April 17.