Launch of three astronauts to ISS postponed

MOSCOW - The launch next month of a Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts to the International Space Station has been postponed by 48 hours, Russia's space agency said Friday, reportedly to ensure better docking conditions.

The delay came after the previous manned launch to the ISS set for September was postponed for almost a month due to technical issues.

The Soyuz space capsule carrying astronauts from Russia, France and the United States is set to blast off for the orbiting space lab from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 2020 GMT on November 17, the Roscosmos agency said in a statement.

It had initially been scheduled for 2105 GMT on November 15.

"The reason for the postponement has been given as better ballistic conditions for the spacecraft to draw close to the ISS and dock," a source at Baikonur told the Interfax news agency.

The crew heading to the ISS is composed of NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson - who became the first ever female commander of the ISS in 2007 - as well as French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky, who will be on his second space voyage.