Russia has launched a rocket into Earth orbit carrying two crewmen and an American "space tourist" to the International Space Station.
The Soyuz rocket lifted off early today-Saturday from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan, in Central Asia. It is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Monday.
The new space-station crew-American astronaut Bill McArthur and Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev- will remain in orbit until next April.
The space tourist - Gregory Olsen of the United States- is paying about 20 million dollars for his 10-day trip into orbit and back. He will travel back to Earth on October 11 with the space-station crewmen who have just finished their tour of duty.
Mr. Olsen, 60 years old, is a wealthy businessman with a scientific background. He is the third non-astronaut to visit the International Space Station.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.