A Russian-built Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft blasted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome Wednesday, bound for the International Space Station.
On board are Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, U.S. astronaut Tom Mashburn and Canadian space agency flight engineer Chris Hadfield, who will eventually command the space station.
The Soyuz craft, is due to dock with the space station Friday.
Anatoly Rydakov, head of joint calculations for the launch, said sub-freezing temperatures along the Kazakh steppe didn’t compromise launch operations.
“The launch complex can take temperatures as high as 40 degrees Celsius to as low as 40 degrees below zero,” he said on Russian State television, describing conditions as comfortable for a launch.
The crew will join three others at the orbiting station, including U.S. astronaut Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin, who have been managing the $100-billion research center since October. The new crew will spend the next five months on board the space station performing two spacewalks and working on experiments in the orbiting laboratory.
Wednesday’s successful launch is a plus for Russia’s space program, which has recently seen a number of mishaps.