US-Russian crew blasts off for International Space Station

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MOSCOW (AP) — A U.S.-Russian space crew blasted off to the International Space Station onThursday following a tight quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner lifted off as scheduled at 1:05 PM (0805 GMT) from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft is set to dock at the station at the station six hours later.

Russian space officials have taken extra precautions to protect the crew during training and pre-flight preparations as the coronavirus outbreak has swept the world.

Speaking to journalists Wednesday in a video link from Baikonur, Cassidy said the crew has been in “a very strict quarantine” for the past month and so in good health.

“We all feel fantastic,” he said.

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March 18 2021 03:00 pm