On September 30, 2009 three cosmonauts on board a Russian Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft successfully blasted off for the International Space Station from Baykonur Cosmodrome at 07:14 UTC.
The crew consists of
Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev, commander of the spacecraft;
American astronaut Jeffrey Williams, flight engineer of the spacecraft;
Canadian billionaire Guy Laliberte, space tourist.
The spacecraft is to dock with the ISS on Friday.
This is Surayev's first flight into space, though he has been on back up crews for years.
"I've been a cosmonaut for 13 years and, maybe it's a joke, but I'm like a good cognac that had to age," Surayev said.
Laliberte, who wanted to be the first clown in space and has taken several red noses with him, said he plans to tickle fellow astronauts as they sleep. He will spend nine days in space before returning to Earth.