Monday, April 05, 2010

Astronauts dock at International Space Station

MOSCOW — A Russian rocket carrying three astronauts from Russia and the United States docked at the International Space Station (ISS) Sunday, the Russian flight control centre said.

The Soyuz rocket, which blasted off early Friday, docked at 0925 (0525 GMT), an official from the centre said in a report by the Interfax news agency.

The rocket left from Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in the Kazakh steppe carrying Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Korniyenko and US astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson.

The mission will join Russian Oleg Kotov, Soichi Noguchi of Japan and US astronaut Timothy Creamer in the ISS.

The crew will now spend six months in orbit, during which time Korniyenko, a former policeman, will celebrate his 50th birthday.

Both Korniyenko and Skvortsov are making their first trip to space, while NASA astronaut Caldwell Dyson flew on the Space Shuttle Endeavour to the ISS in 2007, spending 12 days in space.

The ISS, which orbits 350 kilometres (220 miles) above Earth, is a sophisticated platform for scientific experiments, helping test the effects of long-term space travel on humans, a must for any trip to distant Mars.

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