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KOROLYOV, Moscow region, December 23 (Itar-Tass) —— The Soyuz TMA-03M manned spaceship with an international crew docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at 7:19 p.m. Moscow time, a source at the Russian mission control center told Itar-Tass.
The crews have opened the hatch between the spaceship and the orbiting station.
The spaceship launched from Baikonur 21 delivered to the ISS Oleg Kononenko of Russia, Andrei Kuipers of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Donald Pettit of NASA. The Soyuz TMA-03M crew will enlarge the ISS crew to the regular six members.
The newcomers will spend about five months in orbit.
The enlarged crew has a busy program, including the arrival of two Progress freighters and the third European transport spaceship of the ATV series. The crew will also dock the first U.S. commercial cargo spaceship, which is due to arrive in February 2012.
Russian astronauts will go on a spacewalk to move a derrick from one module to another and to install additional meteorite shields on the ISS exterior.
The research program includes over 100 items, including 71 planned by Russia. Some of the experiments have never been held in orbit before.