UCSD alum launches into space for 1st time

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KAZAKHSTAN -- UC San Diego graduate Jessica Meir launched into space for the first time Wednesday for a mission to the International Space Station.

Astronaut Jessica Meir during a training exercise. The UCSD alum has been tapped for a six-month mission on the ISS.
(Photo: James Blair/NASA)

The NASA astronaut is accompanying Hazzaa al-Mansoori, the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates to fly to the ISS, and veteran Russian commander Oleg Skirpochka on the international mission.

The trio launched on a Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome, a space facility in Kazakhstan that's leased to Russia, on a joint mission to the station.

After the launch just before 7 a.m. PT, the astronauts entered space and were safely on a six-hour journey to the space station, NASA said on Twitter.

Meir earned a doctorate in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD in 2009, according to her NASA bio. She started working with the agency in 2000 and completed astronaut candidate training in July 2015.

A watch party for Meir started at Scripps' Surfside Lounge at 6 a.m.  Wednesday with friends, family, UCSD colleagues and supporters.

Meir has dreamed of traveling to space since she was a first-grader, the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. She’ll remain on ISS for six months doing scientific research. Her background expertise is based in research on the physiology of animals in extreme environments.

Watch the full launch here:

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