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Spacecraft carrying Korean docks with space station PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 11 April 2008

AFP, MOSCOW - South Korea's first astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts docked their Soyuz spacecraft with the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday, a Russian official said.

"The docking took place," a spokeswoman for Russian mission control near Moscow told AFP. "The hatch between the spacecraft and the station will open" between 1550 and 1610 GMT, the spokeswoman said.

She said the seven-metre (23 foot) Soyuz TMA-12 used its automatic docking system to link with the station, which was circling the Earth at 28,000 kilometres (17,400 miles) per hour at an altitude of about 350 kilometres (220 miles).

South Korean scientist Yi So-Yeon, Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, all first-timers in space, blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in the arid Kazakh steppes on Tuesday and Yi is due to return to Earth on April 19.

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak hailed Yi's mission on Tuesday as the start of a "march towards space" by the Asian economic power, which is due to launch a satellite from its own space base later this year.

A spokesman for Russia's Federal Space Centre, Oleg Urusov, said on Thursday that Yi had already started working on some of the scientific experiments she has brought with her as her mission will only last 12 days.

Yi's mission commander Volkov is the son of Russian cosmonaut Alexander Volkov, who launched into space from the Soviet Union and returned only after the Soviet collapse of December 1991, the two forming the first space dynasty.

Since it first went into orbit, the ISS has accommodated 156 astronauts from 15 countries, as well as five "tourists." .

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