This spacecraft is about to deliver three astronauts to space.


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The spacecraft in question is a Soyuz TMA-M, the astronauts: ISS Expedition 36/37 Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineers Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Karen Nyberg of NASA:

Up top, the Soyuz is seen being raised into position at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad, in preparation for today's trip to the International Space Station. It arrived at the launch pad on Sunday, via train:

TMA-09M will be the 118th flight of a Soyuz spacecraft – a testament to the vessel's dependability throughout the years. The first Soyuz launched in 1967, and it's been the go-to vehicle for transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station for years.

It's not often we get to see images like this of a Soyuz in the leadup to a big launch. With spacecraft like SpaceX's Dragon Capsule vying for the Soyuz's job, it's easy to overlook the spacefaring vessels that have gotten us where we are today (and continue to transport humans to and from the ISS safely). It may be decades-old tech, but it's still incredible to look at.

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Check out more photos of the Expedition 36/37 Soyuz craft (the launch has been dubbed "The Volare Mission") over at the European Space Agency.

All images by NASA/Bill Ingalls via ESA