Russian capsule docks with international space station

The capsule carrying the first paying female space tourist docked smoothly at the international space station today.

The capsule carrying the first paying female space tourist docked smoothly at the international space station today.

Officials at Russia's Mission Control applauded as the ship carrying Iranian-born American telecommunications entrepreneur Anousheh Ansari, Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin and US astronaut Michael Lopez-Alegria parked at the orbiting station.

The three had blasted off in the cramped TMA-9 capsule on Monday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Ansari is the fourth private astronaut to pay a reported $20m for a space station visit.

The new arrivals join German astronaut Thomas Reiter and two crew members who are due to return to Earth with Ansari on September 29.

Four space walks are planned during Tyurin and Lopez-Alegrias' six-month stay, with as many as three in January to help set up the station's permanent cooling system.

Another will take place earlier to retrieve and install experiments on the station's exterior.

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