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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 14:43 GMT 15:43 UK
Russian-French crew enters space station
Docking, BBC
The Soyuz craft closes in on the ISS
French astronaut Claudie Haignere has become the first European woman to visit the International Space Station (ISS).

She arrived at the orbiting space complex, with Russian cosmonauts Viktor Afanasyev and Konstantin Kozeyev, after a two-day journey aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Claudie Haigneré, the second female astronaut to visit the ISS, and her Russian colleagues
The visiting crew before take-off
The craft docked with the ISS 400 kilometres (250 miles) above China.

"We congratulate you for a good docking. Thank you guys," said radio operators at Russia's mission control, outside Moscow.

The hatch between the Soyuz and the ISS was opened, and Ms Haignere led the way in. Each of the guests received a hug from the space station's US commander, Frank Culbertson.

The visiting French-Russian crew are on a 10-day mission, which began on Sunday when they blasted off from a launch pad at Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

Their main task is to supply the station with a new Soyuz capsule, which serves as lifeboat for the space station and is replaced every six months.

After conducting a variety of experiments on board, the three are scheduled to return to Earth on 31 October inside the old Soyuz capsule.

First Frenchwoman

Ms Haignere, who in 1996 became the first Frenchwoman in space, is the first French crew member to board the ISS.

A 44-year-old rheumatologist and expert in neuroscience, she is responsible for mooring the Soyuz vessel.

She said: "I am taking with me books and photos which I will present to my friends after the mission and a photo of my daughter."

control room, Moscow
Mission Control, Moscow: "Congratulations"
Her husband, Jean-Pierre, who watched the lift-off, described the final moment as "a release, the accomplishment of all our hopes".

During their brief trip to the ISS, the visiting team will work alongside the main crew, who are halfway through a four-month stay.

Commander Culbertson and Russian cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin moved into the complex in mid-August this year.

They are scheduled to return to Earth in December on the space shuttle Endeavour.

International Space Station

Analysis

Background

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

16 Oct 01 | Science/Nature
13 Aug 01 | Science/Nature
01 May 01 | Science/Nature
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