Three astronauts in Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft have successfully docked with the International Space Station.
The crew of two Russians and one American opened the hatch and joined the three-man team on board, 400 kilometres above the Pacific Ocean. It followed a two-day journey from the launch pad in Kazakhstan.
It is a relief for controllers who had feared that the orbiting base might have to be left empty following a number of mishaps.
“We recognize that we have a fantastic team right there Moscow, in the US, and all the other control centres around the world. Great to hear your voice. I’m glad to finally get aboard and join Sergei, Mike and Satoshi. It was a great ride up here, and it’s going to be a great stay while we’re here,” NASA astronaut and new ISS commander Dan Burbank told controllers in a link-up.
The full six-person crew will remain in place only briefly, before the existing three residents who have been there since June return to Earth later this month.