BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) - A Russian rocket carrying a
three-person U.S.-Russian crew to the international space station
has blasted off successfully from Kazakhstan.
The Soyuz TMA-19, launched early Wednesday local time, is
carrying U.S. astronauts Douglas Wheelock and Shannon Walker and
Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin to the international orbiting laboratory
for a mission lasting about six months.
The trio will be onboard the space station to see the final
shuttle - the Endeavour - depart from its last planned mission to
the lab in November before the fleet is finally retired.
With the shuttle being phased out, the venerable Soyuz rocket
will take over as the only means by which astronauts will be able
to travel to the space station.