Friday, June 18, 2010

US, Russian astronauts arrive at space station

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying two US astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut arrived on Thursday at the orbiting International Space Station (ISS).

The Soyuz lifted off on Tuesday from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan with Americans Doug Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Russian Fyodor Yurchikhin aboard.

The 2221 GMT docking occurred over Argentina. It was the combined 100th flight to the ISS by US space shuttles and Russian Soyuz capsules.

The astronauts are to be part of the ISS crew for five and a half months, joining Russians Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko and American Tracy Caldwell Dyson.

The crew are to conduct several spacewalks during their time in space, which will also likely see the last two visits by US space shuttles. The final shuttle flight is scheduled for November.

Once the heavy-lifting space shuttle is retired, all astronauts will reach the ISS aboard Soyuz spacecraft.

The Obama administration has cancelled plans to develop a next-generation spacecraft to replace the shuttle, instead opting to support the development of commercial spacecraft to ferry astronauts to the station.


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