A Russian-made Soyuz rocket has lifted three new crew members toward the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, Sergey Ryazanskiy of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency are headed to the ISS, following an 11:41 a.m. EDT (9:41 p.m. local time) launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on July 28.
Their Soyuz spacecraft reached orbit by 11:50 a.m. EDT and is expected to reach the space station by 6 p.m. The trio are scheduled to spend more than four months aboard the orbiting space lab and return to Earth in December.
The newly six-person ISS contingent will take on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.
The newest crew members will be greeted upon docking by the current three-person team: commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and NASA flight engineers Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer. That trio — who are scheduled for a Sept. 2 return to Earth — have been operating the ISS on their own since June.