In a successful rehearsal for Monday's flight, a Soyuz cargo vessel took off on November 16 from Baikonur and delivered several tons of food, fuel and supplies to the ISS.
Monday's launch was needed to guarantee that the ISS was not left unmanned after the station's current crew returns to earth later this month.
It was the first manned Russian rocket launch since a dramatic aborted Soyuz failure in October.
The 48-year-old doctor and astronaut lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan this morning aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket with NASA astronaut Anne McClain and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency, Roscosmos.
I'm grateful to Director General Dmitry Rogozin and the entire @NASA and @roscosmos teams for their dedication to making this launch a success.
That's when a rocket failure forced the Soyuz capsule carrying two astronauts to make an emergency landing.
They escaped unharmed but the failed launch was the first such incident in Russia's post-Soviet history and a new setback for the country's once proud space industry.
It was particularly troubling considering the fact that the Soyuz is now the only spacecraft and rocket that can take humans to space these days, since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.
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"I am completely astounded by everything I have seen", Saint-Jacques said during a brief conversation with family members on the ground at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site in Kazakhstan.
The trio on board appeared in front of reporters before the launch, waving and blowing kisses as they repeatedly denied being nervous about the flight.
Their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft entered a designated orbit just under nine minutes after the launch and is set to dock at the space outpost in about six hours.
"We are psychologically and technically prepared for blastoff and any situation which, God forbid, may occur on board".
Ahead of Monday's launch a Russian Orthodox priest blessed the spaceship on its launchpad, in accordance with tradition, while the crew spoke calmly of the dangers involved.
The arrival of the three astronauts restores the space station's crew to six as they join Serena Aunon-Chancellor of NASA, Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency and Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos, who are scheduled to remain aboard until December 20. CBC News Network will also broadcast the interactive special featuring Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
The past few months had been tense at Roscosmos, Russia's space agency.