Lift-off: three astronauts are on their way to International Space Station
Three astronauts have taken off from Russia's Baikonur Cosmodrome heading for the International Space Station (ISS) in an upgraded Soyuz spacecraft.
It carried Russian Anatoly Ivanshin, NASA's Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi of the Japanese space agency JAXA. The NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is a molecular biologist who joined the space program in 2009. She will become the first person to sequence DNA in space during her mission. Trained pilot Onishi is the eleventh Japanese national to go into space. He will take part in experiments linked to the Tanabata star festival celebrated in Japan. Flight Engineer Ivanishin spent 165 days in space in 2011 and 2012.
The launch appeared flawless and the spacecraft entered orbit about 10 minutes after liftoff.
The crew will join American Jeff Williams and Russians Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin, who have been aboard since March.
Ordinarily it takes just six hours to reach the ISS, but the crew will use the longer travel time to perform tests on the newly modified Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft - just the first in a long series of experiments.