Russian Rocket ‘Gagarin’ Set To Take Off From Baikonur For ISS

Two Russians and an American are scheduled to take off for the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Soyuz rocket on April 9. The Russian space agency Roskosmos…

Two Russians and an American are scheduled to take off for the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Soyuz rocket on April 9.

The Russian space agency Roskosmos expects to get cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark T Vande Hei aloft from the Russian launch facility at Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

The trip to the ISS should take around three hours.

The Russian launch is the last before a rocket owned by the private U.S. company SpaceX is scheduled to set out late this month for the ISS from Florida.

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Four Americans, two Russians, and a Japanese national are currently manning the ISS.

Three of them being relieved by the incoming trio will return to Earth in about a week.

The Soyuz 2.1a rocket set to carry the three men into space on April 9 has been named the Yuri Gagarin in honor of the Soviet cosmonaut who became the first human to reach space 60 years ago next week.

Gagarin orbited the Earth once on April 12, 1961, after taking off from the same Kazakh facility at the height of the U.S.-Soviet space race.

Russia’s government this month extended a space cooperation agreement with the United States until 2030, one of the few remaining partnerships between Moscow and Washington amid frosty relations.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin approved and signed the extension on April 3.

The original cooperation agreement, signed in 1992 and extended four times previously, laid the groundwork for wide-ranging, space-related projects and research between NASA and Roskosmos.

Based on reporting by dpa and Reuters

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