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Russian Craft Docks At International Space Station

ISS crew members (left to right) U.S. astronaut Daniel Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin train at the Baikonur cosmodrome in November.
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying three astronauts has docked at the International Space Station (ISS).

Russian Oleg Kononenko, the Netherlands' Andre Kuipers, and Don Pettit of the United States join U.S. mission commander Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who departed Earth for the ISS on November 21.

Russia's national space agency, Roskosmos, has said the six astronauts aboard the ISS will perform "standard" station research and maintenance.

Kononenko and Shkaplerov are scheduled to perform a space walk in February.

Since the July retirement of the U.S. space shuttle, Russia's Soyuz booster is the only means by which astronauts can reach the ISS.

In other news, a Russian rocket attempted to place a communications satellite into orbit but failed, and came crashing down into a remote area of Siberia.

The Russian military said the Meridian satellite crashed in the Novosibirsk area.

Preliminary reports from the scene said there was no harm to people or property there.

The launch of the Soyuz-2 booster with the satellite was on time, but some seven minutes into the flight the third stage of the rocket failed and the satellite plummeted back to Earth.

compiled from agency reports