The Soyuz MS-02 rocket is launched Wednesday with Expedition 49 commander Sergey Ryzhikov of Roscosmos, flight engineer Shane Kimbrough of NASA and flight engineer Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo by Joel Kowsky/NASA/UPI | License Photo
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Russian launched a three-man Soyuz crew Wednesday bound for the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko were aboard when the Soyuz MS-02 lifted off as scheduled at 2:05 p.m. from the Roscosmos space agency-operated Baikonur launch facility.
The capsule is set to dock at the space station in two days.
The last Soyuz was launched in July, when it had upgraded communications and navigation systems.
The Expedition 49 launch was postponed from Sept. 23 because of a technical issue with the Soyuz spacecraft.
Kimbrough, Ryzhikov and Borisenko are scheduled to return to Earth in late February. They will join NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin aboard the space station.
Kimbrough, 49, was a crew member on NASA's Endeavour mission in 2008 when the space station was constructed. The former U.S. Air Force pilot also participated in the 1991 Gulf War, flying an Apache AH-64 attack helicopter.
It's the first trip into orbit for former Russian Air Force pilot Ryzhikov, 42, the commanding officer. Borisenko, 52, who is also an Air Force pilot, was been on one previous space mission from April to September of 2011.
The United States has been dependent on Russia to launch its astronauts since the shuttle program ended in 2011.
NASA pays Russia $82 million for each astronaut launched. Last year, NASA signed a $490 million agreement for six round-trip seats on Soyuz missions with launches in 2018 and 2019.
NASA hopes that Boeing and SpaceX can safely launch astronauts to the space station by early 2019.