|The Soyuz Rocket lifted off, bound for the International Space Station at 11:51am GMT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan|
The reliable Soyuz FG rocket safely launched from the Russian leased cosmodrome in near perfect conditions. After nine minutes of powered flight, the crew reached an altitude of 250 miles sbove Earth. The spacecraft will continue to chase down its target- the International Space Station, which is expected to take 34 orbits, or just over two days.
The Soyuz TMA-06M crew consists of cosmonaut commander Oleg Novitskiy, Flight Engineer Evgeny Tarelkin, and NASA astronaut Kevin Ford. Both Novitskiy and Tarelkin are rookie space farers, and have never flown in space, whereas NASA's Kevin Ford flew on the Space Shuttle as it's pilot on STS-128 in 2009.
This will be the second time Ford will spend time aboard the space station, having visited during his assembly mission three years ago. However, rather than being up there for only 8 days, Ford and his crew mates will spend nearly six months aboard the orbiting laboratory, conducting experiments in microgravity, as well as some earth observation.
When they arrive, they will be greeted by NASA astronaut and current space station commander; Sunita Williams, who is currently aboard station alongside veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, and Japanese astronaut Aki Hoshide.
When asked what is he most looking forward to doing when he arrives on the space station, he replied; "It's going to be great!"
"I'm looking forward to some Sunday afternoons seeing the whole planet, and doing some things I didn't get to do before"
Ford and his crew will return to Earth in their Soyuz capsule in March 2013.