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Two U.S. Astronauts, One Russian Cosmonaut Arrive At Space Station

The current crew of the International Space Station: Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov (center), U.S. astronaut Scott Tingle (left), and Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai

A Soyuz capsule carrying two U.S. astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut has docked with the International Space Station.

The docking late on March 23 came two days after the capsule blasted off from Russia's space-launch complex in Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

On board the capsule were NASA astronauts Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev.

After a long procedure to open the hatches between the Soyuz and the space station, the trio will join station residents Anton Shkaplerov of Roskosmos, Scott Tingle of NASA, and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

The new crew plans to spend about five months on the space station.

Artemyev brought with him a soccer ball that is expected to be used during the opening match of the 2018 World Cup tournament scheduled for June 14 in Moscow.

Shkaplerov is expected to take the ball back to Earth when he returns two weeks before the match.

Artemyev is planning a spacewalk in August with another cosmonaut, Sergei Prokopyev, who is due to reach the space station in June.

The two cosmonauts plan to install equipment on the external surface of the station for an ICARUS experiment monitoring wild birds. The ICARUS experiment is one of about 50 that the Russian crew is tasked with carrying out on their mission.

The two cosmonauts during their spacewalk also plan to launch several nano-satellites.

Based on reporting by AP and TASS