The Soyuz capsule, carrying a trio of U.S., Japanese and Russian astronauts, has blasted off to the International Space Station.
Anton Shkaplerov, Norishige Kanai, and Scott Tingle launched at 1:23 p.m. (0723 GMT; 2:23 a.m. EST). The rocket blasted off on Sunday from Russia’s manned space-launch complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Thus, entering orbit nine minutes later.
The station orbits about 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.
While this is the first space flight for Tingle and Kanai, Shkaplerov, on the other hand, is on his third mission to the ISS.
However, the capsule will dock on Tuesday with the orbiting space laboratory.
The trio will join Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, who have been aboard since September.
Also, onboard is a stuffed dog toy chosen by Shkaplerov’s daughter to be the spacecraft’s zero-gravity indicator.
Thumbnail image: Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, center, U.S. astronaut Scott Tingle, right, and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai, members of the main crew of the expedition to the International Space Station (ISS), walk to report to members of the State Committee prior the launch of Soyuz MS-07 spaceship at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. Credit: AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, pool