Code 36399
PublishDate: Sunday, April 4, 2010 11:43

Russian spacecraft docks at orbiting station

A Russian spaceship carrying three astronauts successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday morning, the Mission Control Center outside Moscow said.

The 23rd ISS mission, consisting of Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Korniyenko, as well as U.S. female astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson, will work at the space station for some 167 days.

After two days of flight, the spaceship docked with the small research module Poisk of the Russian segment in an automatic mode at 09:24 Moscow time (0524 GMT), said Valery Lyndin, spokesman for the Mission Control.

The three astronauts were scheduled to enter the space station some three hours later after checking on airtight conditions and pressures of the sealed cabin.

A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying the Soyuz TMA-18 spaceship lifted off at 08:04 Moscow time (0404 GMT) on Friday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

It was the second time for Caldwell to visit the space after her maiden voyage in August 2007. Both Russian cosmonauts were novices.

They will join Russian Oleg Kotov, American Timothy Creamer and Japanese Soichi Noguchi already working at the space station.

During their stay at the ISS, the crew members will receive three Russian cargo spaceships and three U.S. space shuttles, in addition to conducting 42 scientific experiments and two space walks.

Meanwhile a Russian MIM-1 small research module called "Rassvet " (Dawn), which will be sent to the ISS by a U.S. space shuttle in May, is also set to be docked to the ISS during the mission.

The 7.9-ton "Rassvet" module will be used to conduct a series of scientific experiments, especially those of biotechnology and material science. It can also be used to deposit experiment equipment.

The crew members are expected to return aboard the Soyuz TMA-18 on Sept. 16.

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