US-Russian crew blasts off for International Space Station

MOSCOW (AP) — A U.S.-Russian space crew has blasted off to the International Space Station following a tight quarantine amid the coronavirus pandemic. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner lifted off as scheduled  Thursday at 1:05 PM (0800 GMT) from the Russian-operated Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Their Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft is set to dock at the station at the station six hours later. Russian space officials have taken extra precautions to protect the crew during pre-flight preparations as the coronavirus outbreak has swept the world. Speaking to journalists Wednesday from Baikonur, Cassidy said the crew has been in “a very strict quarantine” for the past month and is in good health.