A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts has successfully docked at the International Space Station. The team made the journey in just six hours, slashing the usual two-day travel time thanks to a new method.
The spacecraft carrying one American, one Italian and one Russian docked at the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday, six hours after blasting off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The new crew consists of Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian Federal Space Agency, US astronaut Karen Nyberg for NASA and Italy's European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano.
The Soyuz took a shortcut that slashed the travel time from the usual 48 hours to just six hours, thanks to a special orbit that catapults the astronauts directly toward their destination.
After one such trip was successfully completed earlier this year, Russia decided to repeat it with the aim of making it the new way to reach the ISS.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Russian astronauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin greeted the newcomers upon their arrival, bringing the total of astronauts on board to six.
Since NASA closed down its US shuttle programe in 2011, Russia's Soyuz craft have been the only means of human transport to the space station.
The ISS is the largest orbiting outpost ever built and consists of more than a dozen modules built by the US, Russia, Canada, Japan and the European Space Agency.
hc/mz (AP, AFP)