Gerst shared the photographs on Twitter with a message welcoming his new roommates — NASA's Anne McClain, Roscosmos's Oleg Kononenko and the Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques, all members of Expedition 58 — to space. You can see more awesome launch photos in our full gallery.
Congratulations to the Russian Space Agency @roscosmos and all international partners for a flawless launch of #SoyuzMS11. And welcome to space, @Astro_DavidS, @AstroAnnimal and Oleg! #Exp57 #Exp58 #Horizons pic.twitter.com/rzEjtm2PcO— Alexander Gerst (@Astro_Alex) December 3, 2018
The launch, which took place from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan as the sun was setting, was the first crewed launch since an anomaly during booster separation sent two astronauts falling back to Earth in an emergency landing on Oct. 11.
But today, everything went precisely according to plan, with an on-schedule and anomaly-free liftoff at 6:31 a.m. EST (1131 GMT). Blastoff kicked off a 6-hour-, four-orbit-long journey to the space station for the trio of astronauts on board.
Once they reach the orbiting laboratory, they'll face a busy schedule that includes welcoming a cargo shipment this week, conducting a spacewalk next week, and saying farewell to the three astronauts who have been living in space since June.
That includes Gerst, as well as his colleagues U.S. astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, who will head back to Earth on Dec. 19. We'll miss Gerst's incredible photography skills.