Sep 25, 2014 4:42 PM
US-Russian space crew lifts off for space station
The Associated Press
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) A U.S.-Russian space crew has blasted off successfully for the International Space Station.
The Russian Soyuz-TMA14M spacecraft lifted off as scheduled at 2:25 a.m. Friday (2025 GMT Thursday, 4:25 p.m. EDT) from the Russian-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan. It's carrying NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore along with Russians Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova for a six-month stint at the station.
The Soyuz entered a designated orbit in about 10 minutes after the launch. It is set to dock at the orbiting outpost in about six hours after the launch, joining an international crew of three currently manning the station.
Serova is making her first space mission, while Wilmore and Samokutyaev have already flown to space.
Serova is the first Russian woman to fly to space since 1997, and the fourth woman in the history of the Soviet and Russian space programs. Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space in 1963.
Since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011, Russian Soyuz spacecraft have served as the only means to ferry crew to and from the space outpost, the latest price tag being $71 million per seat.
Earlier this month, NASA made a major step toward ending the period of expensive dependence on Russian spacecraft, picking Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the station in the next few years. The California-based SpaceX, led by billionaire Elon Musk, has indicated its seats will cost $20 million apiece.
NASA has set a goal of 2017 for the first launch from Cape Canaveral.
SpaceX is already using its unmanned Dragon capsule to deliver supplies to the space station, and is developing its manned version.