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Three astronauts have successfully completed a trip aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule to the International Space Station in order to reinforce the crew.
NASA's Kjell Lindgren, Russia's Oleg Kononenko and Japan's Kimiya Yui blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:02 a.m. local time (5:02 p.m. ET Wednesday).
It was a textbook launch, with Kononenko declaring everything "nominal," meaning normal, about 20 minutes after liftoff. The Expedition 44 crew arrived less than six hours later.
The Soyuz capsule arrived with just one pair of its power-producing solar arrays deployed. NASA mission commentator Kyle Herring said the glitch had no impact on the capsule’s flight and docking.
The launch was among several space projects delayed by the failure of the Progress 59 supply mission in April. A crew scheduled to leave the ISS had to stay on board for an extra month, and the launch of this craft with their replacements was likewise put off.
Lindgren, Kononenko and Yui join cosmonauts Gennady Padalk, Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly. Those three are a skeleton crew that has manned the station since the June 11 departure of three other astronauts — including Samantha Cristoforetti, who recently set the record for longest stint in space by a woman (and also had the first space espresso).