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Soyuz rocket carrying first Belorussian woman in space en route to ISS

In a handout provided by NASA, The Soyuz rocket launches to the International Space Station with Expedition 71 NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, and Belarus spaceflight participant Marina Vasilevskaya onboard, on Saturday, March 23, 2024, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. (Bill Ingalls/NASA/Getty Images/TNS)  (Bill Ingalls/NASA/Getty Images North America/TNS)
German Press Agency

German Press Agency

MOSCOW – Two astronauts from Belarus and the U.S. have set off for the International Space Station together with a Russian cosmonaut, marking the first time that a woman from Belarus is traveling to space.

The Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft lifted off from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in the steppes of Kazakhstan at 1236 GMT.

A first launch attempt had been aborted 20 seconds before takeoff on Thursday due to technical problems.

Saturday’s launch saw Belorussian astronaut Marina Vasilevskaya, who is being accompanied by NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, becoming the first woman from her country to make it into space.

Space cooperation between the U.S. and Russia, including Moscow’s ally Belarus, continues despite the U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia over the war in Ukraine.

The launch also saw two women aboard a Soyuz capsule flying to the ISS for the first time.

This is Dyson’s third flight into space and Novitsky’s fourth.

Vasilevskaya works as a flight attendant for the Belorussian company Belavia. During her two-week stay on the ISS, she will carry out scientific experiments and take spectral images of the Earth’s surface.

According to Russian space agency Roskosmos, she will return to Earth with Novitsky and U.S. astronaut Loral O’Hara in the Soyuz MS-24 at the beginning of April.

Dyson will remain on the ISS until September and will then travel home with cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub.

Kononenko, 59, holds the record for the longest stay on the ISS.

By the end of his fifth current stay there, scheduled until Sept. 23, he will have spent more than 1,000 days in space.