Koichi Wakata embarked on his fifth space mission, marking a new record among Japanese astronauts, aboard a U.S. SpaceX ship that was successfully launched from Florida on Wednesday.

The 59-year-old is one of the four astronauts taking part in NASA's fifth crew rotation mission to the International Space Station using the U.S. commercial spacecraft. The team will travel to the orbiting laboratory for a six-month science and technology research mission.

"It was a smooth ride and I see all the three happy faces here," the veteran Japanese astronaut, clad in a sleek white spacesuit, said after the liftoff.