Friday April 21, 2017
09:33 AM GMT+8

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INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION, April 21 — A scaled-down, two-man US-Russian crew arrived at the International Space Station yesterday, six hours after blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a Nasa TV broadcast showed.

A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying Nasa astronaut Jack Fischer, 43, and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, 58, lifted off at 1.13pm local time/3.13am EDT (0713 GMT) with a rare empty third seat. Russia is scaling back space station staffing until its long-delayed science laboratory is flown to the orbiting outpost next year.

The International Space Station crew members Jack Fischer of the US (top) and Fyodor Yurchikhin of Russia board the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft for the launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, April 20, 2017. — Reuters pic The International Space Station crew members Jack Fischer of the US (top) and Fyodor Yurchikhin of Russia board the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft for the launch at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, April 20, 2017. — Reuters pic Fischer and Yurchikhin reached the US$100 billion (RM4 billion) space station, which orbits about 400 km above Earth, arriving on schedule at 9.18am EDT (1318 GMT).

Soyuz crewmate Yurchikhin has made four previous space flights. Station commander Peggy Whitson, 57, in the midst of her third long-duration mission, is due on Monday to beat the 534-day record for cumulative time spent in space by a US astronaut.

She is expected to receive a congratulatory phone call on Monday from US President Donald Trump, Nasa said on Wednesday.

Whitson, who flew to the station in November along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet, will remain aboard with Fischer and Yurchikhin until September. — Reuters

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