Russia's Soyuz launches three to ISS

Early this morning, a Russian Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft launched into space toward the International Space Station carrying three men onboard to join the three crewmates already on the ISS. The Soyuz capsule is carrying NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

The Russian Soyuz spacecraft launched from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome early this morning at 7:12 AM ET and will orbit the Earth for two days before docking to the Rassvet module on the Russian segment of the ISS. That will happen at approximately 8 AM ET on Friday. About three hours later, hatches between the Soyuz and the ISS will open.

The three space travelers will be greeted by Commander Kevin Ford of NASA, and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin of Roscosmos, who have been in orbit on the ISS since late-October. NASA will live stream the docking beginning at 7:30 AM ET on Friday, and will also be broadcasting the hatch opening starting at 10:15 AM ET.

Marshburn, Romanenko, and Hadfield will remain on the ISS until May 2013, while Ford, Novitskiy, and Tarelkin will return to Earth on March 15. Hadfield will take over as commander of the ISS, which will mark the first time a Canadian has become commander of the orbiting laboratory.

The three astronauts/cosmonauts will be serving as subjects for various human physiology tests, including examinations of astronaut bone loss, and conducting a wide range of physical science experiments. They will also investigate how fire behaves in space, which could help improve engine fuel efficiency and fire suppression methods, and other research will look at fluids that change physical properties with a magnet, which could improve architectural designs to better withstand earthquakes.