All systems go: Astronauts blast off for the International Space Station

A Soyuz rocket carrying two Russians and an American has blasted off for the International Space Station. The crew of Roscosmos Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko and Nasa astronaut Shane Kimbrough lifted off as scheduled from the Russian-operated Baikonur launch facility in the steppes of Kazakhstan on Wednesday. Their Soyuz MS-02 space capsule successfully reached the designated orbit about nine minutes after the launch. Space officials said its systems were working flawlessly and the crew was feeling fine. It is set to dock at the ISS on Friday.

All systems go!! 24 hours and counting until Soyuz MC-02 Expedition 49/50 launch!

Shane Kimbrough, ahead of the launch

Wednesday’s launch was originally scheduled for September 23 but was postponed because of technical problems. The trio’s mission is expected to last just over four months. They will replace three ISS crew members - Kate Rubins of Nasa, Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency - who are due to return to Earth later this month. The launch coincided with the arrival of two Chinese astronauts at their country’s orbiting Tiangong 2 space station for a month-long stay.