Three new crewmembers departed on Sunday on a two-day voyage to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
The new crew comprises Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japan’s Space Agency (JASA) astronaut Akihito Hoshide.
Russia’s Soyuz-FG rocket with Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying the new crew blasted off at 6.40 a.m. Moscow time (02:40 GMT) from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan.
The Soyuz TMA is due to dock with the ISS’s Zvezda service module at 08.52 Moscow time (04:52 GMT) on Tuesday.
The fresh crew will join the current ISS residents – Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, who have been in orbit since mid-May.
The new crew members are expected to conduct over 30 scientific missions during their stay on board the ISS.
For Malenchenko, it is his fifth long-duration spaceflight. Williams and Hoshide visited the ISS once each, traveling on board a U.S. space shuttle. It is their first flight experience with the Soyuz spacecraft.
Russian Soyuz-family spacecraft remain the only means of transportation for crew members to and from the orbital station until at least 2015.