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Trio of astronauts help restore faith in Russian space program (+video)

The safe arrival Tuesday of an American, Japanese, and Russian astronauts at the International Space Station helps improve confidence in the Russian space program. The Russian effort has been beset by problems lately.

Several hours after docking, the crew aboard the Russian Soyuz capsule opens the hatch and joins the crew of the International Space Station. Sarah Sheffer reports.
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A trio of Russian, Japanese and U.S. astronauts arrived safely at the International Space Station (ISS) early Tuesday (EDT), to begin a four-month mission.

For Moscow, its a mission that it hopes will help restore confidence in its space program.

Veteran Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide rode aboard the Soyuz TMA-05M rocket which lifted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan two days ago.

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The were greeted by NASA Flight Engineer Joseph Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin aboard the ISS, a $100 billion research complex orbiting 240 miles (385 km) above Earth.

"So, a smooth and uneventful docking, by the book," NASA flight commentator Rob Navias said.

The space station will be a busy port orbiting Earth in the coming weeks. Japan's HTV3 cargo ship arrives next week, the first of several spacecraft scheduled to contact the ISS over the next 17 days.

Since the retirement of the space shuttles last year, the United States is dependent on Russia to fly astronauts to the ISS, which costs the nation $60 million per person.


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