Expedition 44 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), NASA Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren and Flight Engineer Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency launched on the Russian Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft earlier today.
The ride to orbit lasted about nine minutes. In aerospace jargon, it was a nominal launch: all the important stuff worked as planned. The Soyuz spacecraft lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to begin a six-hour journey to the International Space Station, where the crew of three begin their five-month mission.
The Expedition 44 crew is scheduled to arrive at the ISS at 10:46PM ET, and you can watch on this stream. When they arrive, they will dock to the outpost's Rassvet module.
From the Planetary Society's coverage:
The arrival of the three spacefarers will return the station’s complement to six, ending a longer-than-average interim since the last crew departed on June 10. The launch also marks an important milestone for Russia’s Soyuz rocket, which botched a Progress spacecraft deployment in May. Though Russian investigators were confident the issue was isolated to a single Soyuz-Progress variant and would not affect crewed flights, NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, opted to delay the launch schedule while the investigation continued. As a result, European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti racked up the longest-ever stay in space by a female astronaut—199 days.
R2D2 is floating around inside Soyuz capsule in the live feed right now and it's hilarious pic.twitter.com/GLZoNtlYhY
— Xeni Jardin (@xeni) July 22, 2015