Russia's Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft lifted off atop a Soyuz booster at 10:01 p.m. CDT Monday, May 14 (0301 GMT May 15) with three new crew members for the International Space Station (ISS).
Soyuz commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineers Sergei Revin and Joe Acaba will join the station's Expedition 31 crew when they arrive at the orbiting complex at 11:38 p.m. CDT on Wednesday, May 16 (0438 GMT May 17). They will live and work aboard the ISS for four months, transitioning to lead the Expedition 32 crew.
The trio, which launched under Padalka's call sign "Altair," chose as their talisman — or zero-g indicator — a small doll of Smokey (the) Bear
, the long-time mascot of the U.S. Forest Service. The brown bear with his iconic campaign hat and blue jeans was a gifted to Acaba by a friend who works for the forest service.
This is Padalka's fourth spaceflight and Acaba's second. Revin is making his first trip to space.
Soon after arriving at the space station, the TMA-04M crew will assist with the berthing and unpacking of the first U.S. commercial resupply spacecraft to visit the complex, SpaceX's Dragon capsule, which is scheduled to launch on May 19.