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Astronauts Dock at International Space Station

The Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station crew of Anton Shkaplerov of Russia, Terry Virts of the U.S. and Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy blasts off from the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, November 24, 2014.

A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Italy's first female astronaut has safely docked with the International Space Station.

The U.S. space agency NASA said Samantha Cristoforetti, along with Russians Anton Shkaplerov and American Terry Virts, arrived at the space station Monday nearly six hours after taking off from Russia's space facility in Kazakhstan. They will remain on the station until May.

The Russian news agency Itar Tass says the astronauts brought 15 cans of caviar to the station to use in the New Year's celebration on the station.

The newly arrived astronauts are joining three other astronauts, one American and two Russians, already on the space station - Barry Wilmore, Alexander Samoukutyaev and Elena Serova.

Since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011, Russian Soyuz spacecraft have served as the only means to ferry crew to and from the space outpost.