Russia's Soyuz spacecraft blasts off carrying US tourist Garriott

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Moscow, Oct 12 (UNI) A Soyuz-FG carrier rocket today lifted off from the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan to take a crew of three, including US space tourist Richard Garriott, to the International Space Station (ISS).

The three-stage carrier rocket was launched at 1101 hrs Moscow time (1231 hrs IST) as planned, with the Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft subsequently removing from the rocket, Russian news agencies reported from the launch site.

The world's sole orbiter was successfully moved to a higher orbit on October 4 to receive the Soyuz craft carrying the 18th ISS expedition, which includes US astronaut Mike Fincke, Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov and Garriott.

The crew was approved by Russia's space agency in September after completing a series of pre-flight tests and medical checks.

The son of a US astronaut, millionaire Garriott, 47, made his fortune in online computer games, including the popular Ultima Online, and paid 30 million dollars to become the sixth space tourist to travel to the ISS.

He wants to conduct scientific experiments while onboard and some reports said he might even conduct a spacewalk.


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