Russian spacecraft blasts off for space station

By the Associated Press | June 7, 2011 | 4:30 PM EDT

BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — A Russian Soyuz craft has blasted off from southern Kazakhstan to take a three-man crew to International Space Station.

Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, NASA's Michael Fossum, and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan roared into the night sky from the desolate but balmy Kazakh Steppe early Wednesday.

They will spend almost two days in the cramped Soyuz capsule before docking with the space station, where they will remain until mid-November.

Family, friends and colleagues of the astronauts attended the launch at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in the former Soviet nation.

The team will witness the final mission of the U.S. shuttle, with NASA retiring the 30-year program after Atlantis flies to ISS on July 8.