Baikonur (Kazakhstan): A Russian capsule carrying first Italian female astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti has safely arrived at the International Space Station.
According to NASA, Samantha Cristoforetti, along with Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and American astronaut Terry Virts, arrived at the orbiting space lab on the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft at 0249 GMT Monday.
The Soyuz capsule roared into the pre-dawn darkness just after 3 am Sunday (2100 GMT) from the Russian manned space facility in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The craft docked with the space station less than six hours after launch.
Those include Russian Elana Serova, and Cristoforetti's arrival will make it the second time in the station's 16-year history that two women have been aboard on long-term missions.
Cristoforetti, a captain in the Italian Air Force, will be a flight engineer for ISS expeditions 42 and 43, until May 2015, Xinhua reported.
Cristoforetti, who has logged over 500 hours flying six types of military aircraft, joined the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2009. In 2012, she was assigned to an Italian Space Agency mission aboard the ISS.
(With Agency inputs)