Emirati astronaut Hazzaa AlMansoori, Russian commander Oleg Skripochka, and flight engineer Jessica Meir of NASA docked with the space station about six hours later.
"It's a little bit hard to believe we're here.
It actually felt a lot like being in the simulator until things started moving and then we started noticing the view.
We were pretty busy and it's easy to just get in the moment and forget exactly what we're doing until we looked out the window.
Pretty surreal to be here now but we feel great," said Meir after arriving.
AlMansoori, age 35, a former fighter jet pilot, will spend eight days aboard the station, becoming the first Arab to visit the giant scientific laboratory orbiting the Earth.
The new crew's arrival will boost the ISS headcount to nine - for the first time in four years - until AlMansoori and two astronauts from a previous expedition return to earth on October 3.