Russian Soyuz rocket launches American, Russian, Japanese to space station

A NASA astronaut is on her way to the International Space Station. But the craft didn't launch from the US. Obviously. Now that the organization's shuttle program has been shut down, Sunita Williams had to go into space on a Russian rocket. And she was joined by fellow space travelers from Russia as well as Japan, one from each country.

From Russia is Yuri Malenchenko and from Japan is Akihiko Hoshide. The launch today coincided with the anniversary of the very first inernational space mission. The Apollo-Soyuz Test Project began on July 15, 1975. On this 37th anniversary, it is of course very refreshing to see an astronaut and a cosmonaut on the very same spacecraft serving the same purpose.

Among the group's tasks are performing space station maintenance and a whole bunch of science experiments that can only be achieved in space. During a preflight briefing, Williams said, "Unfortunately our mission is only four months — I wish it would be years and years and years. I'm really lucky to be flying with Yuri and Aki. I think we're going to have a great time."

[via MSNBC]