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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

French Astronaut To Rocket to Mir

France's first woman in space lifts off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Saturday on the latest mission to the orbiting Mir station.


The space forces' mission control said the cramped Soyuz-U rocket would lift off at 5:17 p.m. Pre-launch tests were going well and the rocket's three crew members were in good form.


"Soyuz-U is not very comfortable for the launch of a crew of three, but we have no alternative at the moment," said one official at Russia's military space forces. "A U-2 rocket is more expensive, and the Russian space industry does not have enough money to build such a rocket right now."


Saturday's launch has already been delayed twice because of problems with a booster rocket bringing supplies to Mir, which was launched in February 1986 and has been manned ever since.