Astronauts successfully dock at space station
Moscow: A shuttle carrying astronauts from the United States, Italy and Russia successfully docked with the International Space Station on Friday, the Russian space agency Roscosmos said.
The Soyuz TMA-20 docked two days after blasting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on the Kazakh steppe. On Thursday, Russian space control lost contact with the spaceship for several hours.
"The approach and the docking of the ship with the station was carried out under the control of the space command center," said the statement on the Roscosmos website www.roscosmos.ru.
The docking delivers NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and the European Space Agency's Paolo Nespoli of Italy to the International Space Station, a USD 100 billion project organised by 16 countries.
It has been under construction 220 miles above Earth since 1998.
The Russian news agency Interfax reported late on Thursday that Russia's space command center had lost contact with the spaceship, but that information from the craft had started flowing again hours later.
The Soyuz flight is one of the last before the United States retires its reusable space shuttles, leaving astronauts completely dependent on Russian craft for missions to the space station.