US astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko will be launched to space aboard the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft, set for liftoff from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 08:05 UTC (4:05 a.m. EDT).
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko were aboard when the Soyuz MS-02 lifted off as scheduled at 2:05 p.m.from the Roscosmos space agency-operated Baikonur launch facility. Commander Sergey Rizhikov was accompanied by flight engineer Andrey Borisenko and Nasa astronaut Shane Kimbrough.
Watch the Soyuz docking at the International Space Station in the video below. But for at least the first two MS-series spacecraft, Russian mission managers opted for two-day 34-orbit rendezvous profiles to carry out a variety of tests before resuming faster four-orbit trips.
They will be the second crew to dock at a space station this week.
International Space Station Expedition 50 crew insignia. Once the trio launches tomorrow at 4:05AM ET, they'll travel in space for a couple days, testing some upgraded systems aboard the Soyuz.
The 49-year-old American was part of the shuttle mission back in 2008, during which he took part in two space walks.
NASA pays Russian Federation $82 million for each astronaut launched.
The new crew arrival will bring the space station's numbers back up to six; NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin have been alone on the station since September 6. The Japanese astronaut at ISS, Kimiya Yui has returned to earth from ISS in December along with co-travellers Kjell Lindgren of NASA and Oleg Kononenko of Russian Cosmonaut. That will arrive Sunday with more than 5,100 pounds of supplies and science and research material.
In December, a Japanese cargo craft is scheduled to deliver new lithium ion batteries to replace the nickel-hydrogen batteries now being used to store electrical energy generated by the station's solar arrays.