A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, a Dane and a Kazakh took off for a two-day trip to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday. The rocket was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, a Russian facility in Kazakhstan, at 10:37 a.m, local time (12:37 a.m. EDT), the Associated Press reported.
It marked the 500th launch from the iconic launch pad, which was used in 1961 by Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.
With the launch, Andreas Mogensen became the first Dane to go to space. The Russian astronaut on Wednesday's trip -- Sergei Volkov -- is the son of Soviet cosmonaut, Aleksandr Volkov, who launched into space 24 years ago with the help of the first Kazakh astronaut. The Kazakh astronaut on the current mission is Aidyn Aimbetov.
— ESA Operations (@esaoperations) September 2, 2015
The spacecraft is set to take a longer-than-usual two-day route and head to the ISS for a rendezvous and docking on Friday. The trip traditionally takes a more direct, six-hour flight, but the Russian Federal Space Agency decided to opt for the longer route last week, citing concerns after the ISS had to adjust its orbit to avoid space junk.
With the arrival of the three new members, nine people will share the station during the week-long crew rotation, the first time the station has hosted as many people since November 2013. Mogensen and Aimbetov are scheduled to return to Earth on Sept. 12, along with Russia's Gennady Padalka, the station's current commander.
Command will then be passed on to NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who, along with Mikhail Kornienko of Russia, is set to spend an entire year on the station to study the long-term effects of space habitation in preparation for a possible future trip to Mars.