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Soyuz spacecraft carrying new crew docks with ISS


MISSION CONTROL (Moscow Region), May 29 (RIA Novosti) - A Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft with members of the 20th Expedition on board has docked with the International Space Station in an automated mode, mission control said on Friday.

The Soyuz lifted off from the Baikonur space center on Wednesday.

The 20th Expedition comprises flight engineer Frank De Winne from the European Space Agency, Robert Thirsk from the Canadian Space Agency and Russia's Roman Romanenko.

The astronauts will join the current Expedition 19 crew, comprising Russian Commander Gennady Padalka, U.S. Flight Engineer Michael Barratt, and Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata.

During the upcoming 180-day mission, the six-member crew will receive and unload three Russian Progress craft and a Japanese HTV-1 space freighter, conduct two spacewalks and carry out a series of scientific experiments.

The head of Russia's Federal Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov, earlier described the mission as unique, saying that "representatives of five countries - Russia, the United States, Canada, Japan and Belgium - will for the first time work at the station simultaneously."

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