MOSCOW, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Russian spacecraft Soyuz TMA-07M with a crew of three blasted off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on Wednesday, the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos said.
Live webcast from Roscosmos showed the spaceship, carrying Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, and U.S. astronaut Thomas Marshburn, was launched at 16:12 Moscow time (1212 GMT) from the space center.
Nine minutes later, the spaceship separated from the booster rocket and reached the assigned elliptical orbit.
According to the telemetric data, the flight continued in a normal regime and the three space veterans appeared relaxed and in good condition.
The spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 18:12 Moscow time (1412 GMT) Friday, according to the Roscosmos.
"The crew will reach the ISS in a traditional 'long' trip, which will take two days, though a short trip is also possible," a source in Roscosmos told Xinhua.
The crew will be welcomed by Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin and NASA's Kevin Ford, who were launched to the ISS on Oct. 23.
Romanenko has been named commander of the new mission on the ISS, which will last four months.
According to the Roscosmos, the expedition is expected to do a large amount of work, including two spacewalks. The research program in the Russian segment alone includes 37 experiments.
During the four-month trip to the space, crewmembers intended to devote their spare time to music, in particular. All the three are fond of playing guitar. Hadfield is going to record several songs performed in orbit.
Marshburn told media earlier that he was looking forward to celebrating Christmas in space. "There are some decorations and ornaments, and we will have a little celebration while we are up there," he said.
After the retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet, Russia's Soyuz spacecraft is the only way for astronauts to reach the ISS at least until 2015.