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(Reuters)

A trio of U.S. and Japanese astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut blasted off from Kazakhstan on Sunday for a two-day trip to the International Space Station, a NASA TV broadcast showed

Commander Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and flight engineers Norishige Kanai of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Scott Tingle of NASA lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 1:21 p.m. local time (0721 GMT/0221 EST).

 

Photographers take pictures as the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft carrying the next International Space Station (ISS) crew blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
Photographers take pictures as the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft carrying the crew of Norishige Kanai of Japan, Anton Shkaplerov of Russia and Scott Tingle of the U.S. blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan December 17, 2017. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

The crew will gradually approach the station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, for two days before docking.

Shkaplerov, Kanai and Tingle will join Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, who have been aboard the orbital outpost since September.

 

 

Onboard cameras showed crew members making thumbs-up gestures after the blast-off. Also visible was a stuffed dog toy chosen by Shkaplerov’s daughter to be the spacecraft’s zero-gravity indicator.

Soyuz was safely in orbit about 10 minutes after the launch.

 

(Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov, editing by Larry King)

 

Members of the International Space Station expedition 54/55 during the send-off ceremony after checking their space suits before the launch of the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome
Members of the International Space Station expedition 54/55, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov (C), NASA astronaut Scott Tingle (R) and Norishige Kanai (L) of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during the send-off ceremony after checking their space suits before the launch of the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, 17 December 2017. REUTERS/Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool

 

Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during the send-off ceremony after checking their space suits before the launch of the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome
Member of the International Space Station expedition 54/55, Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) during the send-off ceremony after checking their space suits before the launch of the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, 17 December 2017. REUTERS/Kirill Kudryavtsev/Pool

 

International Space Station (ISS) crew members Norishige Kanai of Japan (bottom) and Scott Tingle of the U.S. wave as they board the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft for the launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome
International Space Station (ISS) crew members Norishige Kanai of Japan (bottom) and Scott Tingle of the U.S. wave as they board the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft for the launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan December 17, 2017. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

Member of the International Space Station expedition 54/55, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle during test their space suits before the launch of the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome
Member of the International Space Station expedition 54/55, NASA astronaut Scott Tingle during test their space suits before the launch of the Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft at the Baikonur cosmodrome, in Kazakhstan, 17 December 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shipenkov/Pool

 

The Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft carring the next International Space Station (ISS) crew blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft carrying the crew of of Norishige Kanai of Japan, Anton Shkaplerov of Russia and Scott Tingle of the U.S. blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan December 17, 2017. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

The Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft carrying the next International Space Station (ISS) crew blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
The Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft carrying the crew of Norishige Kanai of Japan, Anton Shkaplerov of Russia and Scott Tingle of the U.S. blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan December 17, 2017. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

 

Keep reading (more images ahead) …

 

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