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Spaceship Soyuz-TMA Successfully Docks To ISS

SoyuzThe spaceship Soyuz-TMA-3, with Russian Alexander Kaleri, American Michael Foale and Spaniard Pedro Duque on board, successfully docked to the International Space Station in an automatic regime at 11:16, Moscow time.

It is planned to open the entry hatches at 14:14, Moscow time, specified the Mission Control.

At the present time, the ISS and the spaceship are being fastened by special locks," explained a spokesman of the Mission Control. "After the evening out of the pressure, the cosmonauts will open the transitional module and will take off their full-pressure suits," said he.

The program of the eighth permanent expedition provides for additionally equipping the Russian segment of the station and the integration of the docking equipment at the Zvezda module to which the European transport ship ATB will for the first time dock in the second half of 2004.

During their 200-day space flight, Russian Alexander Kaleri and American Michael Foale will unload three Progress transport ships and one time will walk out into open space.

Apart from that, Alexander Kaleri and Michael Foale will conduct important technological experiments which have been ordered by the Space Agencies of the countries that are taking part in the construction of the ISS, and will carry out a broad program of scientific research.

Kaleri and Foale will be replaced, most probably, by their standbys - Russian Valery Tokarev, American William McArthur and Dutchman Andre Kuipers.

The seventh permanent crew of the ISS - cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and astronaut Edward Lu, the term of whose work in orbit expires, will return to the Earth on October 28 in the Soyuz TMA-2 spaceship. Together with them astronaut of the European Space Agency Pedro Duque, member of the fifth visiting expedition, will also return to the Earth.