Soyuz space capsule carrying American, Russian blasts off

But Russian space agency Roscosmos announced past year that only two cosmonauts would travel to the ISS this time as it cuts costs before the installation of a new module to expand the Russian section of the orbital lab at the end of 2017 or in early 2018.

The launch is scheduled for 3:13 a.m. EDT, 1:13 p.m. Baikonur time.

A Russian cosmonaut and an American astronaut have blasted off for the International Space Station, taking a toy dog for company. Meanwhile, new science gear and crew supplies are on orbit right now and headed for the International Space Station this weekend.

US astronaut Jack Fischer, above, and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, crew members of the mission to the International Space Station, ISS, wave near the rocket prior the launch of Soyuz-FG rocket at the Russian leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

NASA's Peggy Whitson, the crew's commander, Russia's Oleg Novitskiy and France's Thomas Pesquet greeted Fischer and Yurchikhin with cheers and hugs.

Fischer's wife thanked him for what she said was "the most unexpected bouquet of flowers" that she received as he was launching into space. "Fyodor told me I should be doing that", he said. Commander Whitson, 57, in the midst of her third long-duration mission, is due on Monday to beat the 534-day record for cumulative time spent in space by a USA astronaut.

The previous three flights of the Soyuz MS spacecraft were held under a two-day scheme as they were carried out in the testing mode.

At 57, Whitson also is the oldest woman to have been in space.

Fischer and Yurchikhin will spend more than four months aboard the orbiting space station before also returning to Earth in September.

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