BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Three new members of the Expedition 33 crew were launched toward the International Space Station early Tuesday, officials said.
The 6:51 a.m. EDT flight carried Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin and NASA astronaut Kevin Ford aboard a Soyuz TMA-06M rocket, NASA reported.
The astronauts are due to dock with the ISS Thursday, RIA Novosti said.
This is the first time in space for Novitsky and Tarelkin. Ford flew on the space shuttle Discovery in 2009, but this is his first trip on the Soyuz spacecraft.
They will join three crew members already working on the orbiting spacecraft: NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide, who have been on the ISS since June.
Speaking at a news conference hours before the liftoff, Ford said the space station is on the verge of paying scientific dividends.
"We're going to learn the bulk of everything we know about the science that we're doing up there in the next decade," Ford, 52, said.
"For me, this is a very new adventure, launching from Russia and launching aboard a Soyuz. The Soyuz is an amazing spacecraft," Ford said.
The U.S.-Russian Soyuz crew members are to begin a five-month mission conducting experiments in biology, physics, astronomy, meteorology and other fields as part of the space station's Expedition 33 and 34 crews.
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