Space launch includes 1st flyer from United Arab Emirates

NASA Space and Science

United Arab Emirates astronaut Hazza Al Mansouri, centre, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, bottom, and U.S. astronaut Jessica Meir, top, members of the main crew to the International Space Station (ISS), board the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft for the launch at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. (Maxim Shipenkov/Pool Photo via AP)

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BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — An American, a Russian and the first space flyer from the United Arab Emirates blasted off Wednesday on a mission to the International Space Station.

A Russian Soyuz rocket lifted off at 6:57 p.m. (1357 GMT) from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome to lift a Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft into orbit.

The ship carrying NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Hazzaa al-Mansoori, a military pilot from the UAE, docked at the International Space Station about six hours later.

It was the third spaceflight for Skripochka and the first for Meir and al-Mansoori, who flew to the station was on an eight-day mission under a contract between the UAE and Roscosmos.

Al-Mansoori was the first of two men chosen by the Gulf Arab nation to fly to the space station.

The trio will join two Russians, three Americans and an Italian aboard the space station. Meir and Skripochka will spend more than six months in orbit. Al-Mansoori will return to Earth next week with Russia’s Alexey Ovchinin and NASA’s Nick Hague.

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