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New space crew lifts off to International Space Station

HOUSTON, TEXAS (BNO NEWS) -- A new space crew on Tuesday took off toward the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA astronaut Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Evgeny Tarelkin and Oleg Novitskiy launched aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket on their mission to the ISS at 4:51 p.m. local time from Site 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. This is the first time in 28 years the pad has been used for human spaceflight.

The three will join Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA and Flight Engineers Aki Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Yuri Malenchenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency, who have been living aboard the orbiting laboratory since July. The three new crew members are expected to remain in space until March 2013, while Williams, Malenchenko and Hoshide will return to Earth next month on November 19.

For the next two days, Ford, Tarelkin and Novitskiy will be inside their Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft as they close in on the space station. Novitskiy is serving as the commander of the Soyuz and will be at the controls as the spacecraft docks with the Poisk module of the station Thursday.

When Williams, Malenchenko and Hoshide undock from the station, it will signal the end of Expedition 33 and the beginning of Expedition 34 with Ford as commander.

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