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Monday, 21st December 2009
In General Japan News,

Noguchi blasts off for Christmas in space

Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi has left the Earth on his way to the International Space Station (ISS) for Christmas.

Noguchi took off from Kazakhstan on Sunday at 15:52 local time, accompanied by Russia's Oleg Kotov and TJ Creamer of the US.

Already onboard the ISS are station flight engineer Max Suraev and station commander Jeff Williams.

Their new cohabitants should arrive in time for the Christmas festivities, as their docking date with the station is set for Tuesday, December 22nd.

A number of space-related projects follow for the crew, including exterior space walks and resupplying the station from an unmanned craft.

In February, they are also set to welcome the crew of the Endeavour as the space shuttle arrives with the Tranquility node that is due to be fitted to the ISS.

Ahead of his departure, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency welcomed messages of support for Noguchi from well-wishers around the world.

Written by Graham McPherson

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