Spy waves off Russian rocket

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The Independent Online

A Russian rocket with an American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts on board blasted off successfully yesterday for the International Space Station, with the Russian spy, Anna Chapman, making an unexpected appearance at the launchpad.

Ms Chapman, who was deported from the US three months ago, watched as the Russians Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka and America's Scott Kelly blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was Ms Chapman's first public appearance in Russia, but she refused to answer reporters' questions.

Russian engineers hugged one another after the craft shed its first stage and it became clear the launch had been a success. Mike Suffredini, the head of Nasa's space station programme, who also watched the launch, gave his thumbs-up, saying: "You can hear it all the way up."