US, Italian and Russian astronauts flew to the International Space Station on Saturday in a launch coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, NASA’s Andrew Morgan and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency set off on a six-hour journey to the orbiting science lab from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1628 GMT.
A statement published on the Roscosmos website after the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft entered space stated that “all stages of the flight proceeded according to plan.”
A NASA TV commentator hailed a “textbook launch” amid “sweltering” weather at Baikonur, where daytime temperatures reached 43 degrees Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) on Saturday.
The blast coincides with the date that NASA’s Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon in 1969, a defining moment in the space race with the Soviet Union.
Of the trio launching from the Kazakh steppe, only 53-year-old Skvortsov had been born at the time of the moon landing.
A veteran of two ISS missions, Skvortsov was the flight commander for the six-hour journey from Baikonur to the ISS.
Morgan, 43, flew for the first time.
Parmitano’s only previous stint at the ISS lasted 166 days and saw him become the first Italian to carry out a spacewalk.
Skvortsov, Morgan and Parmitano all come from military backgrounds and posed together in uniform in the build up to the launch.
The trio were welcomed into the ISS by Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos after docking.