A Russian capsule blasted off with a deafening roar, carrying U.S. billionaire Charles Simonyi into space for his second cosmic cruise.
Ice shards broke away as the Soyuz rocket with a Russian-American crew lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in northern Kazakhstan.
Simonyi, a 60-year-old software designer who paid $35 million for the trip, showed the thumbs-up sign to capsule TV cameras as his 28-year-old wife, Swedish socialite Lisa Persdotter, cried with worry.
"I'm very, very happy. [The launch] was very, very smooth," Persdotter said as the rocket, a bright dot in the sky, gradually faded from view. "But I'm very emotional."
Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and American astronaut Michael Barratt also were aboard.