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Astronauts headed to the International Space Station on anniversary of moon landing

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(L-R) Andrew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano preparing for takeoff
(L-R) Andrew Morgan, Alexander Skvortsov and Luca Parmitano preparing for takeoff -
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Three new crewmembers have lifted off for the International Space Station on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano from the European Space Agency and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov are due to lift off in a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmosdrone in Kazakhstan.

The three crew members are expected to arrive at the ISS at around 11:50pm CEST where they will be welcomed by NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin who launched in March.

The launch marks 50 years since Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step on the surface of the moon.

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The event was one of the defining moments of the space race between the West and the Soviet Union but the last manned mission to the moon was in 1972.

Speaking at a celebration of the anniversary last month, Buzz Aldrin criticised the NASA's current human spaceflight plans in front of the agency's chief Jim Bridenstine.

US President Donald Trump is urging NASA to focus on the first manned spaceflight to Mars but Aldrin thinks the agency has a long way to go before they reach that point. He pointed out that NASA currently does not have even the capability to send humans back to the Moon.