A Canadian, a Russian, and an American were blasted into space today, destined for the International Space Station. With the NASA limiting its rocket launches and shutting down its manned flight program, the astronauts were sponsored by a pair of Canadian agencies studying the effects of aging on the human body. "To monitor for blood changes in astronauts on the station," says Elizabeth Howell at NBC, "the spaceflyers will take samples while still in orbit, then ship them back to Earth."

Tom Marshburn, the American astronaut, worked on the ISS before (in 2009); he'll be joining his NASA colleague Kevin A. Ford, who boarded the ISS nearly two months ago. 

The launch took place in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, a small city rented by Russia to host the Baikonur Cosmodrome, a massive space launch facility and site of the Sputnik 1 launch in October 1957. The crew is scheduled to return in May 2013.