American, Russian arrive at International Space Station

Russia on Thursday successfully launched its Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft carrying two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), the Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos said.

The two men aboard the spacecraft are Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) astronaut Jack Fischer. About nine minutes into their voyage, the stuffed dog leaped into the air, then began to drift at the end of the string around its neck.

They will travel six hours before docking at the space station.

Yurchikhin, making his fifth space flight, and Fischer, who is there for the first time, talked to family and friends at the Baikonur facility who were watching the launch there. They were welcomed by Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Russian Federation and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, as well as Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA, who on Monday will break the record for longest time spent in space by a USA astronaut. Fischer told his wife she had veteran cosmonaut Yurchikhin to thank for that.

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Pence signed baseballs for players and was presented with two jerseys at Wednesday's gathering with dozens of young ballplayers. The announcement followed an inaugural meeting Tuesday of the U.S. -Japan Economic Dialogue in Tokyo chaired by visiting U.S.

"I learnt from the master". Jeffrey Williams now holds the 534-day record.

At 57, Ms Whitson also is the oldest woman in space.

Fischer and Yurchikhin reached the $100 billion space station, which orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth on schedule at 9:18 a.m. EDT (1318 GMT).

The astronauts will spend more than four months aboard the orbiting station before returning to Earth in September.

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