A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying South Korea's first astronaut has docked successfully at the International Space Station.

The capsule hooked up with the orbiting platform on schedule Thursday without incident. About three hours later, the hatches linking the capsule and the space station were opened, and South Korean bio-engineer Yi So-yeon and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Volkov joined the space station crew for a brief news conference.

The Soyuz craft roared into space Tuesday from Russia's Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan, to cheers from Yi's family and guests.

Yi returns to Earth April 19 with the space station crew her two Russian colleagues are replacing.

She was one of 36,000 people who applied to become the first Korean in space.

Yi was originally named as backup to her countryman, mathematician Ko San, and was not expected to fly.

But in March, Russia said Ko had violated security rules, prompting authorities to promote Yi and relegate Ko to standby status.

The Soyuz flight also marked a milestone for Sergei Volkov, the mission commander, who became the first second-generation astronaut or cosmonaut to reach space.

Volkov's father, Alexander Volkov, is a decorated and revered cosmonaut from the Soviet era.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.