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Soyuz TMA-03 approaching International Space Station in automatic mode.

December 23, 2011, 17:59 UTC+3
The docking is scheduled for 7:23 p.m. Moscow time
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KOROLYOV, Moscow region, December 23 (Itar-Tass) —— The Soyuz TMA-03 manned spaceship with an international crew is approaching the International Space Station (ISS) in the automatic mode. The docking is scheduled for 7:23 p.m. Moscow time, a source at the Russian mission control center told Itar-Tass.

“The flight is normal and Oleg Kononenko of Russia, Andrei Kuipers of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Donald Pettit of NASA are well,” the source said.

The docking will be automatic; if any problems occur, commander Kononenko will take manual control. “Manual docking is as normal as automatic docking,” the source emphasized.

While the Soyuz TMA-03M is nearing the ISS, the ISS crewmembers are performing daily routine. Anton Shkaplerov has held the sixth session of the Constanta biotechnological experiment, which studies reactions of living matter in space. The experiment is essential for prospective interplanetary flights.

Shkaplerov, Anatoly Ivanishin and Daniel Burbank woke up at 1:30 p.m. Moscow time on Friday. Their working day will last until 5:00 a.m. Moscow time on Saturday.

The ISS crew has prepared for the arrival of the colleagues and planned the menu of the first joint dinner. The crew is now running final tests of ISS systems before the docking.

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