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Russian Rocket Carrying Three Astronauts Arrives At Space Station

A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying a three-man crew docked smoothly at the International Space Station July 23.

The 16-story rocket delivered veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and rookie astronauts Kjell Lindgren with NASA and Japan's Kimiya Yui to the station despite a glitch after liftoff when a solar panel providing energy for the rocket failed to open up.

The trio had been set to fly in May, but Russia delayed the mission after a botched launch of a similar Soyuz rocket in April. That accident stranded a Progress cargo ship in an orbit too low to reach the station, leading to its disintegration in the Earth's atmosphere.

The Soyuz returned to flight on July 3, successfully launching a replacement load of cargo to the station.

The arrival of the three astronauts returns the space station to a full six-member crew for the first time in six weeks.

Kelly and Russia's Mikhail Kornienko are participating in the station's first year-long duration mission.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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