MOSCOW (AP) – A trio of Russian and American space travelers launched successfully and reached the International Space Station.

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, a Minnesota native, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov blasted off as scheduled at 12:42 p.m. Friday aboard the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan.

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They docked at the station after a two-orbit journey that lasted just over three hours.

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Vande Hei first headed to the International Space Station in 2017. The astronaut graduated from Benilde-St. Margaret’s high school and earned his B.S. in physics from St. John’s University in Collegeville in 1989.

The launch came three days before the 60th anniversary of the first human flight to space by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and the 40th anniversary of the first launch of NASA’s space shuttle.

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