Russia's Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft docks to ISS - M5 Dergi
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Russia’s Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft docks to ISS

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Russia’s Soyuz MS-25 spacecraft successfully docked to the International Space Station Monday, four days after its launch was delayed due to a technical issue, the Roscosmos space agency said.

On board is Belarus’ first female cosmonaut Marina Vasilevskaya, experienced Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky and US astronaut Tracy Dyson, who blasted off on Saturday for a two-day journey.

“Soyuz MS-25 has docked to the ISS,” Roscosmos said.

Novitsky and Vasilevskaya will spend 14 days in orbit, returning home aboard the Soyuz MS-24 spacecraft with US astronaut Loral O’Hara, while Dyson will spend 184 days in space.

MS-25’s take-off was aborted seconds before launch on Thursday, raising further questions about the reliability of Russia’s beleaguered space program.

Once a space-faring pioneer, Moscow has faced multiple setbacks since the collapse of the USSR, including the loss of two Mars missions and its first lunar probe in almost 50 years last August.

Space is one of the final areas of US-Russia cooperation amid an almost complete breakdown in relations between Moscow and Washington over the last two years.

For almost a decade, Russian Soyuz launches were the only way to ferry astronauts between Earth and the ISS, after NASA halted its Space Shuttle program.

But the United States has now moved to using privately-built SpaceX rockets and capsules, ending Russia’s monopoly on manned launches.

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