At 5:17 p.m. EDT Tuesday (3:17 a.m. local time, Wednesday), a Soyuz rocket launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, sending two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut on a fast-track ride to the International Space Station.
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However, just as the Russian-built rocket ascended into space, NASA astronaut and Expedition 38/Expedition 39 flight engineer Rick Mastracchio managed to zoom in on the nighttime Kazakh launch site and photograph the bright flames of the Soyuz from orbit.
Mastracchio, who has been living on the orbiting outpost since November, tweeted the photo only minutes after launch, writing: "Just saw the Soyuz launch from station. Great view. In 6 hours we will have new crew members."
The Soyuz spacecraft is carrying NASA's Steve Swanson and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev who are scheduled to join Mastracchio and the rest of the crew at 11:05 p.m. EDT tonight.