Russia's Soyuz spacecraft carrying US tourist docks with ISS

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Moscow, Oct 14 (UNI) Russian Soyuz spacecraft TMA-13 carrying US space tourist Richard Garriott has docked with the International Space Station (ISS), RIA Novosti news agency reported today quoting Russia's Mission Control official.

The Soyuz TMA-13 craft, which blasted off from the Baikonur space centre in Kazakhstan on Sunday, brought US astronaut Mike Fincke, Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov and US space tourist Garriott to the ISS.

Mr Garriott will conduct a variety of scientific experiments during his ten-day stay on the orbiting station.

The son of US astronaut Owen Garriott, the sixth space tourist to travel to the ISS made his fortune in online computer games, including the popular Ultima Online.

He reportedly paid 30 million dollars for the trip to the ISS.

The newly-arrived crew will replace Russian cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, while US astronaut Greg Chamitoff will remain onboard until November, when he will be replaced by US astronaut Sandra Magnus.

Mr Volkov and Mr Garriott will become the first children of astronauts to meet in space. Mr Volkov's father, Alexander, was orbiting the Earth when the USSR collapsed in 1991.

The new ISS crew will spend about six months in space and carry out over 50 scientific experiments under the Russian space programme, and a number of joint experiments with the European Space Agency.

In addition, the astronauts will conduct at least two spacewalks, unload two Progress M cargo spacecraft, test a new, fully-computerised Orlan-MK space suit, and receive the crews of two US space shuttles.

The 18th Expedition may become the last three-man crew on board the ISS due to plans to increase the number of astronauts manning the station to six starting from spring 2009.

UNI XC RJ SB RK1605

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