The TMA-05M rocket cleared the skies above the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:40 p.m. Eastern Time. The crew included NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, and Japanese spaceflier Akihiko Hoshide.
“Unfortunately our mission is only four months — I wish it would be years and years and years,” Williams said during a preflight briefing. “I’m really lucky to be flying with Yuri and Aki. I think we’re going to have a great time.”
The crew will dock Tuesday, the 37th anniversary of the first international orbital platform, the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.
On July 15, 1975, NASA launched the Apollo capsule and the Soviet Union launched a Soyuz 19, which performed the first international space dock.