US-Russian crew blasts off for space station

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan -  

A Russian spacecraft carrying a three-man crew has blasted off on a quicker than usual trip to the International Space Station.
 
   The Soyuz took off as scheduled from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 2:43 a.m. Friday (2043 GMT; 4:43 p.m. EDT Thursday).
 
   Chris Cassidy of NASA, along with Russians Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin, make up the first crew to take a new, much shorter path to the orbiting outpost. Instead of the two-day approach maneuver used in the past, a journey to the station would take the crew just under six hours.
 
   The new maneuver has been tested successfully by three Russian Progress cargo ships, an unmanned version of the Soyuz used to carry supplies to the space station.
 
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