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Russia's Soyuz spacecraft docks with ISS


RUSSIAN MISSION CONTROL (Moscow Region) March 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft carrying the 19th Expedition and space tourist Charles Simonyi docked Saturday with the International Space Station (ISS), a RIA Novosti correspondent said.

The crew were forced to switch over to manual regime during the last phase of the docking procedure following an engine malfunction, which meant the Soyuz docked with the orbital station some nine minutes ahead of schedule.

The procedure, which presented no threat to the expedition, was successfully carried out by the crew's Russian commander Gennady Padalka.

The head of Russia's ISS segment, Vladimir Solovyov, told journalists that following the engine malfunction, "The commander assessed the engines to be working normally and we gave him permission to switch to manual which was done successfully."

Besides Padalka and billionaire Simonyi, the crew includes NASA astronaut, who joins Japan's Koichi Wakata, U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov on board the ISS.

This is Hungarian-born Simonyi's second trip into space. His current journey has cost him some $10 million more than the $25 million he paid for his 2007 visit.

Padalka and Barratt will remain on the ISS for six months, and Simonyi will be on board for ten days before returning to Earth on April 7 with Fincke and Lonchakov.

By the end of May, the ISS will be constantly manned by six astronauts.

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