The Russian spacecraft Soyuz-21, named after the father of Soviet and Russian space exploration Yury Gagarin, was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in central Kazakhstan.

On board are Russians Alexander Samokutyaev and Andrei Borisenko, as well as NASA astronaut Ronald Garan.  They will have to work in orbit for five months.

The spacecraft Gagarin was launched one week before the 50-year anniversary of the first manned flight into space. This date is actively celebrated around the world.