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Three Russian cosmonauts launch for International Space Station

MOSCOW — A Russian rocket blasted off successfully Friday carrying a trio of Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station.

Russian space corporation Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev and Sergey Korsakov safely reached a designated orbit in their Soyuz MS-21 spacecraft minutes after launching at 8:55 p.m. Friday (11:55 a.m. EDT) from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan. Their ship is set to dock at the station later Friday.

The blastoff marked the first space crew launch since Russia launched an invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The war has resulted in cancelled spacecraft launches and broken contracts, and Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin has warned that the U.S. would have to use “broomsticks” to fly into space after Russia said it would stop supplying rocket engines to U.S. companies. Many worry that Rogozin is putting decades of a peaceful off-planet partnership at risk, most notably at the International Space Station.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson played down Rogozin’s comments, telling The Associated Press: “That’s just Dmitry Rogozin. He spouts off every now and then. But at the end of the day, he’s worked with us.”

“The other people that work in the Russian civilian space program, they’re professional,” Nelson told the AP on Friday. “They don’t miss a beat with us, American astronauts and American mission control.”

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