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British astronaut Tim Peake is on his way to ISS

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By Keith Walker  with REUTERS, Jeremy Wilkes
British astronaut Tim Peake is on his way to ISS

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a three-man international crew, including Britain’s first ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut, Tim Peake, blasted off on Tuesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The rocket carrying the Soyuz TMA-19M spaceship lifted off at 17h03 local time (1203 CET), beginning its six-hour journey to the International Space Station, and successfully reached its designated orbit about 9 minutes later.

Major Peake has 17 years’ service as an armed forces pilot, with 3,000 flying hours.

The 43-year-old follows Briton Helen Sharman, who was the first Briton to go into space in 1991 on Project Juno, a co-operative project between a number of British companies and the Soviet government.

Sharman spent a week at the Russian Mir space station.

The most experienced British-born astronaut is NASA’s Michael Foale.

Tim Peake is the first British ESA astronaut.

Watch:Tim Peake’s voyage to the International Space Station

The launch as it happened