Astronauts blast off from Baikonur cosmodrome to International Space Station

Expedition 53-54 launch

Expedition 53-54 launch

The capsule blasted off from the Russian manned space launch facility in Kazakhstan on Wednesday morning and docked with the orbiting laboratory about five and a half hours later.

Washington, Sep 13 (IANS) Three new crew members have arrived at the International Space Station, restoring the station's crew to six, NASA said on Wednesday.

Heading for a five-month mission, as it launched, a translator for Russia's Mission Control Centre in Moscow announced that "everything is nominal on board [and] the crew is doing fine", during the live broadcast.

After a six-hour flight, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Joe Acaba, KE5DAR and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos arrived at the International Space Station at 10:55 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 12, where they will continue important scientific research.

This is the third flight to space for the 50-year-old Acaba, who became the first person with Puerto Rican heritage to complete NASA's astronaut training in 2006.

The craft arrived at the International Space Station a couple of minutes early.

Vande Hei attended Benilde-Saint Margaret High School in St. Louis Park and received his bachelor's degree from St. John's University.

NASA TV commentator Rob Navias said during the launch: "A series of burns over the next several hours will gradually raise their orbit as they chase down the space station".

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