A Russian Soyuz has successfully blasted off from Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan heading for the International Space Station with three astronauts onboard.
Among them is Malaysia’s first astronaut Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, who is scheduled to spend nine days at the station before returning with the outgoing crew.
The first Muslim to fly in space during the holy month of Ramadan, he will be observing religious rules while on the ISS and will treat his crewmates to a celebratory meal for the Eid festival this weekend.
The two other members of Expedition 16, US astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, were blessed with holy water in a ceremony just before take-off.
Both are scheduled to spend around six months in space, and Whitson is set to become the first female commander of an ISS expedition.
The crew will be carrying out a number of scientific experiments, including a study of the growth and development of plants in the absence of gravity.