U.S. and Russian Astronauts Blast Off to the International Space Station

(BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan) — A duo of astronauts from the U.S. and Russia has blasted off for a mission on the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as scheduled at 2:40 p.m. (0840 GMT; 4:40 a.m. EDT) Thursday from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz booster rocket. Their Soyuz spacecraft will dock at the orbiting outpost six hours later.

It’s the first space mission for Hague, who joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2013. Ovchinin spent six months on the station in 2016.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have sunk to post-Cold War lows over the crisis in Ukraine, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential vote, but Russia and the U.S. have maintained cooperation in space.

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