New crew boards International Space Station (Roundup)
Oct 10, 2010, 10:44 GMT
Moscow/Washington - Two Russian cosmonauts and one US astronaut arrived early Sunday at the orbiting International Space Station aboard the Soyuz spacecraft, bringing the ISS back up to its targeted crew strength of six.
The US space agency NASA said the docking was complete by 0309 GMT Sunday, when the hatch doors opened three hours after the craft arrived. The capsule blasted off Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Russians Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripotschka and American Scott Kelly are due to spend five months conducting more than 40 experiments in the space station. A number of spacewalks are also planned.
They join the ISS crew of commander Doug Wheelock and fellow- American Shannon Walker, along with Russian cosmonaut Fjodor Yurtchichin.
Moscow media reports said the three were especially pleased by the delivery of fresh fruit which the new arrivals brought with them, along with letters from friends and relatives.
The Soyuz capsule flew for the first time with digital navigation technology. Soyuz will take over all astronaut transport in 2011, when the US retires its shuttle programme.
The digital equipment replaces a nearly 30-year-old computer system on the Soyuz, at the same time making the capsule 70 kilograms lighter, weight which can now be taken up by more cargo.
In Baikonur meanwhile, the Russian space holding company Energia assured that the next Soyuz launch would take place on schedule in December despite a glitch last week when the Soyuz capsule was damaged while being brought to the launching pad.
'It will take off in December,' Energia boss Vitali Lopota said.
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