Rocket carrying Iowa native blasts off for International Space S - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rocket carrying Iowa native blasts off for International Space Station

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Associated Press Associated Press

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) - A Soyuz rocket carrying a veteran American astronaut, a French newcomer and a Russian cosmonaut has blasted off for the International Space Station.

The crew of NASA astronaut and Iowa native Peggy Whitson, Russia's Oleg Novitskiy and France's Thomas Pesquet lifted off from the Russia-leased launch facility in Kazakhstan and went into orbit eight minutes later. The crew will now travel for two days before docking at the space station.

Whitson, who will celebrate her 57th birthday in February, has now become the oldest woman in space, adding to her long list of barrier-breaking records. This will be the third space station mission for Whitson, an Iowa-born biochemist, and her second stint as commander. She already has spent 377 days in space and performed multiple spacewalks. This six-month mission should push her beyond 534 days in space, the U.S. record set in September by 58-year-old astronaut Jeffrey Williams.

Whitson, Novitskiy, 45, and the 38-year-old Pesquet, who is making his maiden flight into space, will join an American and two Russians at the orbiting lab. They have worked at the station since October.

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