The Soyuz-TMA 8 capsule blasted off from the Central Asian steppe at 6:30 a.m. Moscow time (0230 GMT), carrying Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov, U.S. astronaut Jeffrey Williams, and Brazilian astronaut Marcos C. Pontes, the Mission Control outside Moscow said. The Soyuz is expected to dock with the ISS on Saturday.
Vinogradov and Williams will replace Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and U.S. astronaut Bill McArthur, who have been working at the station since October. During their six-month mission, they are expected to make four spacewalks -- two on the Russian program and two on the U.S. program -- as well as conduct about 50 experiments in space.
Pontes, Brazil's first astronaut, will carry out a series of scientific experiments during his nine-day stay at the orbiting lab and return with the outgoing ISS crew on April 9.