Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft launched from Kazakhstan

By Meriamgul Kussainova

NUR SULTAN, Kazakhstan (AA) – The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft carrying Russian and American crew was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) from a spaceport in Kazakhstan on Friday.

The launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome was streamed live by the Russian space agency (Roscosmos). Kazakh Prime Minister Askar Mamin and Dmitry Rogozin, director general of the agency, watched the launching together.

Named after Yuri Gagarin, the first human to conduct spaceflight 60 years ago, the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft is on its way to the ISS with a crew consisting of Russian cosmonauts Оleg Novitsky, Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei.

The spacecraft lifted off at 1.42 p.m. local time (0742 GMT) from the spaceport and left the orbit after nearly nine minutes. It is expected to dock at the ISS after around three-and-a-half hour journey.

The crew is planned to stay at the ISS for six months and conduct some 50 scientific researchers during that time.

Russian, American and Japanese astronauts are currently on duty at the ISS, which is a multinational collaborative project involving NASA, Roscosmos, the European Space Agency (ESA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).

*Writing by Sena Guler in Ankara