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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 September 2006, 13:12 GMT 14:12 UK
Space tourist, new crew board ISS
Anousheh Ansari and the Expedition 11 crew on the space station   Image: Nasa TV
The new arrivals were greeted warmly by the station's current crew
Space tourist Anousheh Ansari and two other crewmembers of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft have entered the International Space Station (ISS).

Ms Ansari arrived at the platform with Michael Lopez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin - the relief crew for the ISS.

During a radio link-up with the space tourist's relatives on Earth, Tyurin assured them: "We'll look after her".

The trio blasted off on 18 September on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The craft docked smoothly with the space station's Zvezda service module at 0121 EDT (0521 GMT) on Wednesday.

The hatch to the ISS was opened at about 0430 EDT (0830 GMT). The three new arrivals were greeted warmly by the station's current inhabitants, commander Pavel Vinogradov, Nasa science officer Jeff Williams and European Space Agency (Esa) astronaut Thomas Reiter.

Ms Ansari, an American businesswoman, is the first female space tourist and the fourth private space traveller to visit the ISS following Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth and Greg Olsen.

Shuttle delay

Meanwhile, astronauts aboard the Atlantis shuttle have now spotted several small objects floating in space outside the orbiter.

It was the discovery of drifting debris on Tuesday that had prompted controllers to postpone Wednesday's planned landing.

The US space agency (Nasa) is happy, however, that none of the items seen so far poses a risk to the vehicle.

Atlantis left the space station on Sunday (Nasa)
Atlantis left the space station on Sunday
The Atlantis astronauts have used a robotic arm and camera system to inspect the ship's heatshield to confirm it has not been damaged.

Even if there had been no floating debris, Nasa would probably have had to change the scheduled touchdown time anyway because of unfavourable weather at the Florida landing site. Thursday's outlook is much brighter.

Atlantis is currently in transit from the space station where it attached new solar wings. It left the platform on Sunday.

Ms Ansari's space holiday lasts until the end of the month. She will then come back to Earth with Vinogradov and Williams.

Space tourist Anousheh Ansari boards the space station

Space station prepares a welcome
19 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature
Atlantis shuttle undocks from ISS
17 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature
Space station opens solar wings
14 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature
Lockheed to build Nasa 'Moonship'
31 Aug 06 |  Science/Nature
Shuttle edges to night launches
20 Jul 06 |  Science/Nature

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