Russia's Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft with the International Space Station Expedition 31/32 aboard blasts off on May 15.
AFP/Getty Images
Russia's Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft with the International Space Station Expedition 31/32 aboard blasts off on May 15.

Story highlights

Two Russians and an American are traveling to the International Space Station

Their Soyuz spacecraft lifts off from a launch site in Kazakhstan

The three men will join three other crew members in orbit

CNN —  

A Soyuz spacecraft lifted off from a launch site in Kazakhstan on Tuesday to ferry three new crew members to the International Space Station.

The Russian vehicle is carrying the three space engineers – an American, Joe Acaba; and two Russians, Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin – from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, according to the NASA website.

Once at the space station, they will join three colleagues already on board: Commander Oleg Kononenko, a Russian; and two flight engineers, Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands and Don Pettit, an American.

The six men form the space station’s Expedition 31.

The ISS is a joint venture between NASA, Russia’s RKA space agency, Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency, the European Space Agency and the Canadian CSA.

NASA is now reliant on the Russian space agency to ferry U.S. astronauts to orbit, since the grounding of the U.S. shuttle fleet has left the United States with no way to lift humans into space.

Plans are in the works for private companies to begin shipping cargo to the station, and eventually to carry astronauts as well.