A Soyuz carrying an American, Russian and Italian has blasted off for the International Space Station, where they will spend six months conducting a variety of experiments.

The Soyuz spacecraft lifted off at 2:31 a.m. Wednesday (2031GMT, 4:31 p.m. EDT Tuesday) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which Russia leases in Kazakhstan.

NASA's Karen Nyberg, Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and Italy's Luca Parmitano will orbit the Earth four times before docking with the space station less than six hours after liftoff. They will join three other people who have been aboard the station since late March.