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Italy’s first female astronaut lifted to ISS

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Italy’s first female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti representing the European Space Agency, Soyuz commander Anton Shkaplerov  representing the Russian Federal Space Agency and station commander Terry Virts with the U.S National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) were lifted to International Space Station (ISS) by a Russian Soyuz rocket with TMA-15M spacecraft.

The Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazahkstan on 23/11/2014 to deliver the three new crew members to the International Space Station. This has boosted the lab’s crew to six members and settling for a busy winter of research and space-walk assembly work for receiving capsules to the ISS. The crew are slated to stay till May 2015.

The crew has also carried an 20kg machine designed by Italian coffee-maker Lavazza and engineering firm Argotec, which specialises in making space food along with food supplies.

A total of 16 countries work on the ISS of which Russia and the US finances most of the space operation. ISS was launched into orbit in 1998, this outpost and orbiting laboratory, which costed $500bn (£320m) to build, saw its lifespan extended by another four years by NASA. It is expected to remain in service until 2024.

NASA depends entirely on Russia’s Soyuz rockets to send its astronauts to the ISS, which costs the US $70m (£45m) per person. This is the reason NASA wants to promote US private space companies for space lifting.

Source – Reuters, CBSnews, TheGuardian