A Soyuz rocket is preparing to lifted off from Kazakhstan within the hour and will carry three new astronauts to their temporary home on the International Space Station. Cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin are joined by American engineer Kevin Ford as the crew begins a six-month mission into outer space. It will be the first Soyuz launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in more than 25 years.

The launch is scheduled for 6:51 a.m. Eastern time and will be streamed live by NASA-TV, which you can also watch below. Lucy Kafanov (@LucyKafanov) of RT.com is also covering the launch from the scene.

The astronauts have a stuffed hippo dangling from the roof of their cockpit. When it starts floating due to loss of gravity, they know they've reach outer space.


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