Three new crew members embarked on a six-month expedition aboard the International Space Station Thursday with a launch from Kazakhstan on top of a Russian Soyuz rocket at 0805 GMT (4:05 a.m. EDT). NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner docked with the space station at 1413 GMT (10:13 a.m. EDT) Thursday.
A Russian Soyuz-2.1a rocket rolled out to a launch pad Monday at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, ready for the first crewed flight to use the modernized Soyuz booster configuration. Liftoff with two Russian cosmonauts and a veteran NASA astronaut is scheduled Thursday on an expedition to the International Space Station.
The next three-man crew to launch on a Soyuz rocket — comprising two Russian cosmonauts and a veteran NASA astronaut — is training to have the International Space Station to themselves after their arrival at the orbiting research outpost in April, at least until new U.S. commercial crew ships enter service.