The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-01M space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Station blasts off from the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, early Friday, Oct. 8, 2010. The Russian rocket carries NASA astronaut and University of Tennessee graduate Scott Kelly.
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (WVLT/AP) – A veteran U.S. astronaut and University of Tennessee graduate has blasted off for the International Space Station.
Scott Kelly and his two Russian cosmonaut colleagues lifted in Russia's first all-digital Soyuz TMA-01M. The overhauled spacecraft will allow a doubling of the launch rate of Soyuz space ships once the NASA shuttle fleet is retired.
Kelly joined NASA in 1996. That same year he graduated with a Master’s of Science degree in Aviation Systems from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Since joining NASA, he has flown two shuttle missions and will take over in November as commander of the orbiting outpost. He will spend aboard the ISS as part of Expedition 25 and 26.
In November, Kelly will become part of history when he meets his identical twin brother Mark on the International Space Station. Mark Kelly will command the Shuttle Endeavour. Once in space, the Kelly brother’s will become the first two blood relatives to be in orbit at the same time.