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Russia launches NASA astronaut to space station under new ‘crew swap’ agreement

A U.S. astronaut has lifted off for the International Space Station, flying in a seat on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft that was reserved through the first “crew swap” agreement since before the end of the space shuttle program than 15 years ago.

Francisco “Frank” Rubio of NASA launched with Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin of Roscosmos, Russia’s federal space corporation, on Wednesday (Sept. 21). Their Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft took flight (opens in new tab) on a Soyuz-2.1a rocket from Site 31 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 9:54 a.m. EDT (1354 GMT or 6:54 p.m. local time).

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