Launch of Soyuz MS-11

A picture’s worth a thousand words, but they can also leave you speechless. Every so often, a picture can capture something so unique, you’ve never seen anything quite like it.

That’s certainly the case for ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, who captured some very moving images of the successful Soyuz launch Monday. Gerst’s photos from ISS show contrails from the Russian spacecraft as it strains against the atmosphere to break into space.

Gerst was documenting the flight of his future station mates, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques and Roscosmos astronaut and expedition commander Oleg Kononenko. The mission was the first to fly since an earlier launch had to abort from the Soyuz spacecraft because of trouble with the rocket. Both the astronauts on that launch made it to the ground safely.

Gerst is set to return home on Dec. 20. He’s also filled his Twitter timeline with more shots from space. A few of his best can be seen below.