American, two Russians take shortcut to space
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AFP) - An American and two Russians blasted off Thursday for the International Space Station atop a Soyuz rocket that will slash more than a day off the usual travel time.
Michael Hopkins of Nasa and Oleg Kotov and Sergei Ryazansky of Russia took off without a hitch from the Baikonur space centre that Moscow leases from Central Asia's ex-Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.
"Everything went according to plan. Everything went as expected," Nasa's official flight commentator announced via a web feed after the Soyuz reached orbit about 10 minutes into its flight.
The capsule will only orbit the Earth four times as opposed to the usual 30 under a technique originally devised in the Soviet era but only adopted on a regular basis in the past year.