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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 October, 2004, 04:45 GMT 05:45 UK
New space crew docks with station
Expedition 10 arrives on the ISS
The boarding Expedition 10 is greeted by Expedition 9
A Russian spaceship with its crew of three has docked successfully at the International Space Station (ISS), Russian mission control reports.

The Soyuz craft carrying cosmonauts Salizhan Sharipov and Yuri Shargin and US astronaut Leroy Chiao arrived at 0416GMT, one minute ahead of schedule.

The three will spend 10 days working alongside the outgoing ISS crew, who will return to Earth with Shargin.

Chiao and Sharipov will then be left to spend the next six months on the ISS.

Mission control in Korolyov, near Moscow, broke into applause at news of the safe docking.

Earlier, it had announced that the crew would guide the spaceship in manually without giving any indication why.

Shuttle return

The new crew - Expedition 10 - will study plant growth and carry out experiments on possible vaccines against Aids. They also plan to make two spacewalks.

Expedition 10 (AP)
Both Sharipov and Chiao are of Asian extraction
Their arrival marks the fourth trip to the ISS by a Soyuz spacecraft since the US suspended shuttle flights after the Columbia disaster of February 2003.

The Expedition 9 crew - Russian Gennady Padalka and American Mike Fincke - have completed a six-month tour of duty.

The new space crew were in jovial mood when they gave their last media conference before blast-off in a Russian Soyuz TMA-5 rocket.

Technical problems had twice led to their launch date being put back.

"Salizhan is a kind and flexible person, and he has become a real friend of mine," Chiao was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.

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"To spend six months with him aboard the station will be a real pleasure," he said, speaking fluent Russian.

Sharipov quipped that Leroy was the kind of man he could "take on a risky mission behind enemy lines".

Since the Columbia shuttle disaster in February 2003, Russian Soyuz craft have been the only means of getting crews to and from the ISS.

The latest estimate of when the US orbiters might return to flight is May next year at the earliest.

Construction on the multi-billion-dollar platform is on hold until the shuttles are brought back into service and can carry up new components for the station.




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Watch the crew change over



SEE ALSO:
Shuttle loses March-April window
04 Oct 04  |  Science/Nature
Big shuttle repairs not possible
27 Aug 04  |  Science/Nature
Spacewalk complete despite hitch
03 Aug 04  |  Science/Nature


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