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American, Russian cheered as they reach Intl Space Station

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NASA's Jack Fischer and Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin lifted off from the Russia-leased launch facility in Kazakhstan at 1:13 p.m. Thursday (0713GMT, 3:13 a.m. EDT). The Soyuz should take about 6 hours to reach the space station, NASA officials said in a statement. Fischer wrote in a Twitter post alongside a photo of him and Yurchikhin.

At 57, Ms Whitson also is the oldest woman in space.

"It's so attractive", Fischer told his wife, describing the experience as "a burrito of awesomeness smothered in awesome sauce".

A Soyuz space capsule on Thursday safely delivered an American astronaut making his first space flight and a veteran Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station.

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Mr Yurchikhin, 58, has made four space flights before but his NASA rookie crewmate is on his maiden voyage, and fears figuring out how to use the zero-gravity toilets aboard the ISS may be his biggest challenge.

Yurchikhin, 58, has racked up 537 days in space over the course of four missions to the ISS, more than any United States astronaut but some way short of the 879 days logged by record-holding compatriot Gennady Padalka. Station commander Peggy Whitson, 57, in the midst of her third long-duration mission, is due on Monday to beat the 534-day record for cumulative time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut.

They were welcomed by Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Russian Federation and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, as well as Expedition 51 Commander Peggy Whitson of NASA, who on Monday will break the record for longest time spent in space by a US astronaut.

She is expected to receive a congratulatory phone call on Monday from U.S. President Donald Trump, NASA said on Wednesday.

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