Soyuz rocket lifts off from Baikonur.
At 6:16 am MST this morning, the Russian TMA-03M spacecraft was blasted into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket on its journey to the International Space Station. The 3-man crew on board will join the ISS Expedition 30 A-team that is patiently waiting for the rest of their crew complement. Commanded by Astronaut Dan Burbank, flight engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin will be joined on Friday by astronaut Don Petit and cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kulpers.
Docking is expected to occurr on Friday at about 8:22 am MST, with the hatches opening at about 11 am. MST. The TMA-03m craft will dock at the station's Rassvet module (Russian).
ISS Mission Control in Houston monitors the launch.
ISS crew watches the video feed of the launch while in orbit. The large interior space of the ISS modules is very evident. Another astronaut can be seen in the connecting module farther back. The crew has been busy decorating ISS with a Christmas theme, though not seen in this screenshot. We'll see more of the Christmas spirit during docking procedures and the welcome aboard ceremony on Friday.