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'Yuri Gagarin' blasts off to ISS

Soyuz launch honours first man in space

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Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome last night paid tribute to Yuri Gagarin as the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft, decorated with the name of the first man in space, blasted off to the International Space Station.

Just a week shy of the 50th anniversary of Gagarin's historic flight on 12 April 1961, astronaut Ronald Garan, and cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyayev and Andrei Borisenko (left to right in photo) departed from the same launch pad as their celebrated predecessor.

Ronald Garan, Alexander Samokutyayev and Andrei Borisenko snapped at Baikonur Cosmodrome. Pic: NASA

The Soyuz is due to dock with the ISS at 23:18 GMT tomorrow, when it will be met by Expedition 27 crew members commander Dmitry Kondratyev, and flight engineers Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli.

The trio have been aboard the orbiting outpost since December last year, and are due to return to Earth on 16 May, to be replaced by NASA 'naut Mike Fossum, cosmonaut Sergei Volkov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa.

NASA will be streaming live video of tomorrow's docking here. ®

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