First Russian woman on ISS

A RUSSIAN rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, taking to orbit a US-Russian trio including the first Russian woman to serve on the $100 billion space outpost.

The Soyuz rocket lifted off from a vast steppe into a black sky at 0225 am (10:25 pm ET on Thursday) to take Russian Alexander Samokutyaev, his compatriot Elena Serova and US astronaut Barry Wilmore into orbit.

“Everything in order on board, we feel well,” a live television broadcast by US space agency NASA showed Mr Samokutyaev reporting to Russia’s Mission Control during the lift-off.

A toy rabbit with an attached tiny Russian tricolour flag dangling above the crew’s heads in the cabin started floating in weightlessness after about nine minutes into the flight.

“The capsule is now safely in orbit,” a NASA presenter said.

Ms Serova said that if she were to choose, she would have taken “Phoenix” as her personal call-sign for this mission.