Shuttle leaves for 1-year mission in Space

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The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-16M space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station, ISS, blasts off at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Saturday, March 28, 2015. The Russian rocket carries U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly, Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, and Mikhail Korniyenko. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

American astronaut Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko blasted off early Saturday on a mission to spend an entire year away from the Earth. The trip is NASA’s first attempt at a one-year spaceflight, anticipating Mars expeditions that would last two to three years.

Their Soyuz space capsule set off from Russia’s manned space launch facility on the steppes of Kazakhstan at 1:42 am local time (1942 GMT Friday) and was to dock with the International Space Station about six hours later after making four orbits of the planet.

Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka of Russia was also aboard their Soyuz capsule.

He is scheduled for the standard six-month tour of duty aboard the space station.

Kelly and Kornienko, 54, will remain on board until next March.

During that time, they will undergo extensive medical experiments, and prepare the station for the anticipated 2017 arrival of new US commercial crew capsules.

Source: Associated Press

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