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Canadian NASA astronaut heading to the International Space Station

Last Updated Mar 21, 2018 at 12:41 pm PDT

Queen’s alumnus and NASA astronaut Drew Feustel is shown in this undated handout image. A NASA astronaut with ties to Canada heads to the International Space Station today on a visit to the orbiting space laboratory which will last nearly six months. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Queen’s University and Make Hay Media **MANDATORY CREDIT **

MONTREAL – A NASA astronaut with ties to Canada has blasted off to the International Space Station where he will stay nearly six months.

Andrew “Drew” Feustel, who has dual Canada-U.S. citizenship, headed off Wednesday afternoon with fellow NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev.

The trio are aboard a Soyuz rocket that left as scheduled from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan — eight months before Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques leaves for the orbiting space laboratory in November for a six-month stay.

The spacecraft is set to dock at the orbiting outpost Friday.

Feustel met his future wife, Indira, a speech pathologist from eastern Ontario, at Indiana’s Purdue University.

They married and came to Canada, and Queen’s University says he completed a PhD in geological sciences at the university in Kingston, Ont., in the 1990s.

The Queen’s Gazette says their two children Ari and Aden, were born in Kingston and that the family still has ties to the city.

It will be Feustel’s third flight into space, and his second to the space station where he will also take over as commander in June.

In a recent Facebook posting, Feustel said his two boys were both born on the same date two years apart: April 26.

A NASA astronaut biography says Feustel began his astronaut training when he reported to the Johnson Space Center in Houston in August 2000.

— With files from The Associated Press