New crew heads to space station

Soyuz lifts off (AFP) It will take two days to get to the ISS

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Three new crewmembers have launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Americans Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin will form part of the Expedition 24 team on the platform.

Their Soyuz TMA-19 blasted away from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2135 GMT on Tuesday.

The ship is due to dock with the ISS's Zvezda service module at 2225 GMT on Thursday.

A hatch opening will take place some hours later to allow them to join fellow Expedition 24 crewmates Commander Alexander Skvortsov and flight engineers Mikhail Kornienko and Tracy Caldwell Dyson already aboard the platform.

Doug Wheelock is a US Army colonel who is making his second trip into space. Shannon Walker is making her first spaceflight.

Fyodor Yurchikhin the most experienced of the three. He is making his third trip to orbit having already spent six months aboard the station in 2007 as commander of Expedition 15.

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