The Soyuz TMA-22 successfully lifted off from cold and snowy Kazakhstan on Sunday morning from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome.
NASA is now relying on Russian spacecraft, now that the shuttle program has been retired.
The launch had been delayed for two months due to the crash of an unmannned Progress cargo ship in August. The successful launch of a Progress ship last month cleared the way for the crew to be sent off.
NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, along with two Russians, is set to dock with the space station on Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.