MOSCOW, March 29 (RIA Novosti) - Three new members of the International Space Station (ISS) crew began the first-ever manned flight under a new six-hour flight program shortly after midnight on Friday Moscow time.
The new short flight program, which takes six hours instead of about two days, was earlier successfully tested by Progress space freighters.
The blastoff of the Soyuz-FG rocket, carrying the Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft, took place as scheduled, at 00:44 Moscow time at the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft separated from the third stage of the rocket some ten minutes later.
The crew comprises Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov, Alexander Misurkin and Christopher Cassidy of NASA. Vinogradov and Kotov have taken two spaceflights. For Cassidy, this will be the second spaceflight in total, but the first one onboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.