WATCH LIVE at 9:54 a.m.: Soyuz rocket to launch cosmonauts, NASA astronaut to space station

A NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts are set to launch Wednesday morning to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan.

Miami native and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin will then embark on a six-month research expedition at the ISS, WKMG in Orlando reported.

Expedition 68 astronaut Frank Rubio of NASA, left, and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos, right, are seen in quarantine, behind glass, during a press conference, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The trio are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft on Sept. 21. (NASA/Bill Ingalls/)

Liftoff at the Baikonur Cosmodrome is set for 9:54 a.m. EDT. After a roughly three-hour flight, the trio is expected to climb through the hatch of the space station at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The mission will be Rubio’s first trip to space after becoming a NASA astronaut in 2017. The mission also marks the first flight of a U.S. crew member on a Russian spacecraft since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rubio, who was raised in Miami, is filling the Soyuz spacecraft seat as part of a swap agreement between NASA and Roscosmos. Under the deal, U.S. astronauts can ride Russian spacecraft and cosmonauts can join U.S. crewed launches free of charge.

On Oct. 3, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina is scheduled launch to the ISS on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center. The mission, called Crew-5, will also consist of two NASA crewmates and a Japanese astronaut.

NASA astronauts routinely launched on Russian Soyuz rockets — for tens of millions of dollars apiece — until SpaceX started flying station crews from the Space Coast in 2020.

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