US, Italian, Russian astronauts blast off for ISS Jul 21, 2019 0 393 12345 AFPBaikonur, KazakhstanUS, Italian and Russian astronauts blasted into space on Saturday, headed for the International Space Station, in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing.Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA’s Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set off on a six-hour journey to the orbiting science lab from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1628 GMT.A NASA TV commentator hailed a “textbook launch” minutes after blastoff in “sweltering” weather in Baikonur, where daytime temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius on Saturday.The blast coincides with the date that NASA’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon in 1969, marking a defining moment in the so-called “space race” with the Soviet Union.Of the trio launching from the Kazakh steppe, only 53-year-old Skvortsov had been born at the time of the Moon landing. A veteran of two ISS missions, Skvortsov is the flight commander for the six-hour journey from Baikonur to the ISS.Morgan, 43, is flying for the first time.“The absolute hardest part: saying good-bye and watching them walk away,” wrote the father-of-four in a Saturday tweet featuring a picture of his wife and children.Parmitano’s only previous stint at the ISS lasted 166 days and saw him become the first Italian to carry out a spacewalk. “L-2 h 30 min: One more look at my planet... it’s time to climb aboard our rocket. Next stop @Space_Station,” the Italian tweeted.Skvortsov, Morgan and Parmitano all come from military backgrounds and posed together in uniform in the build up to the launch.Skvortsov joked that “two colonels will be taking orders from a colonel” when Parmitano becomes commander of the space station mid-way through his mission -- a reference to the military rank the three share. POST A COMMENT RELATED ARTICLES Trump hits out at May, praises incoming British PM Johnson Jul 21, 2019 0 199 Thousands gather in German city to protest far-right rally Jul 21, 2019 0 168 Kosovo’s PM resigns after being called to Hague war crimes court Jul 21, 2019 0 151 Three dead as small plane crashes into building in Germany Stuttgart: Three people were killed on Saturday when a small plane crashed into a building in south-western Germany, police said. The plane went down in the town of Bruchsal, about 70 kilometres north-west of the city of .. Flights grounded as Mount Etna erupts on Italian island of Sicily Rome: Flights were temporarily grounded overnight to Saturday on the Italian island of Sicily after a volcanic eruption at Mount Etna. The volcano began erupting late Friday evening, the Italian Institute for .. US puts Venezuelan intel officials on sanctions blacklist Washington: The US Treasury placed four senior Venezuelan military intelligence officials on its sanctions blacklist on Friday, tying them to the death in custody of a navy captain who was allegedly tortured. Division .. US enduring extreme heat as weekend temperatures soar AFP Washington The United States is sweating through a weekend of extremely hot weather, with major cities including New York and Washington bracing for temperatures close to or exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 .. US offers $7 mn to find Hezbollah agent wanted for Argentina deadly attack AFP Buenos Aires The United States on Friday offered a $7 million reward to find a Hezbollah operative accused of masterminding a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ..