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. Aboard were NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Hazzaa al-Mansoori from the UAE.
It was the third spaceflight for Skripochka and the first for Meir and al-Mansoori, who is on an eight-day mission under a contract between the UAE and Roscosmos.
Al-Mansoori, a military pilot, is 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.