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Soyuz Spacecraft Docks with International Space Station


A Russian Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station, after a two-day flight from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz brought a millionaire businessman from New Jersey, Gregory Olsen, as well as another American and a Russian.

The Soyuz slowly approached the space station and docked ahead of schedule, two days after the spacecraft was launched from Kazakhstan.

American astronaut Bill McArthur and Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev are to spend the next six months on the station, replacing the current two-man crew.

The third new arrival is American Gregory Olsen, a scientist and electrical engineer who runs a firm in Princeton, New Jersey, that makes electronic sensors for military and civilian use.

Some call him the world's third space tourist, following American Dennis Tito in 2001 and South African Mark Shuttleworth in 2002.

But Mr. Olsen says this label is inaccurate, because he is a scientist and plans to test some of his firm's equipment and conduct other experiments during his eight-day stay on the space station.

"I have a spectrometer going up," he said. "We will use it to measure moisture on the earth, also clouds where we will measure the spectrum of light or colors that are reflected from earth."

Mr. Olsen paid $20 million for the trip, but says that - in the future - space travel will likely become as routine as air travel is today. He is scheduled to return to earth on October 11, with Russian Sergei Krikalyov and American John Phillips, who have spent the last six months on the station.

Since 2003, Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft have served as the only link with the space station, after NASA grounded space shuttles in the wake of the Columbia tragedy that killed seven astronauts.

The shuttle Discovery did go to the station in July, but problems with the foam insulation on its fuel tank led NASA to ground all shuttles, once again.

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