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Tourist arrives at space station

14 October 08 08:35 GMT

The Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft carrying a new crew for the International Space Station (ISS) has docked with the orbiting outpost.

Flying with American Mike Fincke and Russian Yuri Lonchakov is the US fare-paying tourist Richard Garriott.

Mr Garriott, who paid about $30m (£17m) for a 10-day trip to the ISS, is following in the footsteps of his father, a Nasa astronaut in the 1970s.

Docking occurred slightly ahead of schedule over Kazakhstan at 0826 GMT.

In the family

Richard Garriott is a 47-year-old computer games designer, and a board member and investor in Space Adventures, the firm that has brokered the ISS flights of previous millionaire tourists.

His father, Owen Garriott, spent 60 days on the Skylab station in 1973.

By coincidence, Mr Garriott arrives on the station when it is being commanded by the son of a another famous space traveller.

Sergei Volkov's cosmonaut father, Alexander, flew long-duration spaceflights to the Russian Salyut 7 and Mir orbiting stations.

Expanding station

Fincke and Lonchakov are both ISS veterans. The US astronaut is making his second tour of the platform; Lonchakov is on his third tour.

The Expedition 18 crew, as they are known, will supervise the start-up of new life-support equipment for the ISS. This should enable the full-time occupancy of the orbiting outpost to be increased from three to six crew members in May.

Mr Garriott will occupy some of his time taking photos to record how the Earth's surface has changed in the 35 years since his father's voyage. Photography on the station is not easy as the movement of the platform during exposure has a tendency to smear telephoto images. The camera has to be tracked in time with the movement to get a sharp picture.

He will return to Earth with Expedition 17 - Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko - on 23 October.

The next shuttle mission to the space station launches in November.

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