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First Female Tourist Heads Into Space

September 18, 2006 -- A Soyuz spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan early today, headed for the International Space Station.

On board is the first female space tourist, Anousheh Ansari, an Iranian-American telecoms entrepreneur.

She and the two-member crew are due to arrive at the International Space Station on September 20.

The two astronauts at the controls, Russian flight engineer Russian Mikhail Tyurin and U.S. commander Michael Lopez-Alegria, will replace a crew that is finishing a tour of duty at the space station.

The same day, the "Atlantis" space shuttle is due to return to earth from the space station.

(RFE/RL 18.ix.06)

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