Southern California astronaut heads to International Space Station

NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, a Southern California native, and two cosmonauts blasted off today in a Russian rocket from southern Kazakhstan for the International Space Station.

Caldwell Dyson, 40, was born in Arcadia, attended junior high and high school in Beaumont, and studied chemistry at Cal State Fullerton.

The Soyuz craft carrying Caldwell Dyson and Russians Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko is scheduled to dock Sunday with the space station about 200 miles above the Earth.

Caldwell Dyson, Skvortsov and Kornienko will join a Russian, American and Japanese crew already on board.

Their mission ends in September, just before the last-ever shuttle flight from the Kennedy Space Center.

According to NASA, Caldwell Dyson logged more than 300 hours in space during her first space flight on Space Shuttle Endeavor's voyage to the space station in August 2007.

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