Two US astronauts and a Russian crewmate blasted off successfully Wednesday on a mission to the international space station that will see the last ever shuttle visit to the orbiting lab.
US astronauts Douglas Wheelock and Shannon Walker and Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin lifted off in a Russian Soyuz rocket, its boosters lighting up the the starry nighttime sky over Central Asian steppe. Their Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft is set to reach the station Friday.
The trio will be onboard the space station to see the final shuttle — the Endeavour — depart from its last planned mission to the lab in November before the fleet is finally retired.
Wheelock said before the start that he was saddened to see the shuttle go, but he described his mission as an exciting new start.

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