A Soyuz space capsule carrying a Russian, an American and a Japanese docked smoothly early Thursday with the International Space Station.
The capsule connected to the orbiting laboratory about 250 miles above Earth at 2:45 a.m. GMT (10:45 p.m. ET Wednesday)
The rocket had lifted off from a Russian manned launch facility in Kazakhstan about 5 hours and 45 minutes earlier at 9:02 p.m. GMT (5:02 p.m. ET) Wednesday.
The rocket reached orbit about 15 minutes after launch and circled the Earth four times before heading for the space station.
The capsule carried Oleg Kononenko of Russia, NASA’s Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui of Japan. Lindgren and Yui are on their first trips into space. Yui told a news conference that he was taking some sushi with him as a treat for the others.
They join Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly. The latter two are more than four months into a nearly year-long mission on the space station.
The launch was postponed by about two months after the April failure of an unmanned Russian cargo ship, which raised concerns about Russian rocketry. Another Russian cargo ship was successfully launched in early July.