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Russia's Soyuz to dock with International Space Station

RIA Novosti

12/10/2007 09:22 MOSCOW, October 12 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian Soyuz TMA-11 spaceship carrying members of the 16th expedition to the International Space Station (ISS) is set to dock on Friday, Russia's mission control said.

The automatic docking process is scheduled for 6:52 p.m. Moscow time (2:52 p.m. GMT).

The crew comprises Russian cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, and Malaysia's first cosmonaut Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor.

Shukor will spend 10 days at the ISS, and return to Earth in late October with the Russian members of the previous expedition - Fyodor Yurchikhin and Oleg Kotov.

Malenchenko and Whitson will be joined later at the ISS by new flight engineer, U.S. citizen, Daniel Tani, arriving with the Discovery STS-120 mission, scheduled for launch on October 20.

Whitson is set to become the first female commander of an ISS expedition. She will spend around six months in space.

Members of the expedition will carry out 48 experiments, including a study of human cardiovascular activity and sleep functions, as well as research into the growth and development of plants in the absence of gravity, earth remote sensing, and a series of biotechnological experiments.

Russia and Malaysia concluded a $900 million deal in 2003, stipulating that Malaysia would buy 18 Russian Su-30MKM Flanker fighters and that Russia would prepare and launch a Malaysian astronaut toward the ISS.

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