A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, a Dane and a Kazakh (and a few dozen plastic astronauts) blasted off on Wednesday for a two-day trip to the International Space Station.
The rocket lifted off from a Russian launch facility in Kazakhstan with “everything going flawlessly,” according to a commentator on NASA television. It was the 500th launch of both manned and unmanned spacecraft from the launch pad used in 1961 by Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.
Andreas Mogensen is the first Dane in space. Mogensen, 38, will be joined by 26 custom-made Lego models of astronauts provided especially for the mission by the world-famous Danish toy manufacturer.
Russia’s Sergei Volkov is following in the footsteps of his father, who 24 years ago launched into space with the first astronaut from Kazakhstan.
The Kazakh on the current mission, Aidyn Aimbetov, got his seat when British singer Sarah Brightman pulled out.
The new three-man crew will arrive at the orbiting outpost on Friday after a two-day flight through space.
The Kazakh and Dane are scheduled to return to Earth on Sept. 12 with Russian Gennady Padalka, the current station commander.
Command will then be passed to NASA’s Scott Kelly, who along with Mikhail Kornienko of Russia is spending a full year on the station to study the effects of long space travel in preparation for a possible future trip to Mars.