Astronauts' Sons Meet in Space After Capsule Docks With ISS

The sons of a cosmonaut and a U.S. astronaut met in space on Tuesday when spaceman Sergei Volkov welcomed American Richard Garriott on board the international space station.

Garriott, a computer game developer who paid $35 million for his trip to space, arrived with U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke and cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov on board a Soyuz capsule, which docked with the space station two days after blasting off from a launch pad in Kazakhstan.

After the hatches were opened between the capsule and the station, Volkov -- whose cosmonaut father was orbiting the earth when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 -- welcomed Garriott with a hug.

U.S. space agency NASA said they were the first children of previous space adventurers to meet in orbit.

State television showed Garriott smiling after taking congratulations from friends and family, including his astronaut father, Owen, who joked with Alexander Volkov at mission control in Moscow.

Fincke will serve as commander of the six-month Expedition 18 mission, which will focus on preparing the station to house six crewmembers on longer-duration missions.

Russian officials brushed aside reports of problems with a toilet at the station, saying all problems had now been resolved and that there were several reserve systems.

After 10 days in space Garriott will return to Earth with the space station's outgoing crew aboard a Soyuz re-entry vehicle, a three-person capsule that has malfunctioned on its last two flights.

In April, a Soyuz capsule landed 420 kilometers off course after explosive bolts failed to detonate before re-entry, sending the craft into a steep descent. Last year, a Soyuz capsule carrying Malaysia's first astronaut also made a so-called ballistic landing, similarly blamed on faulty bolts.

Russian space officials said they had done everything possible to avoid a so-called ballistic entry when Garriott returns to Earth.

"We can say with confidence that we have done everything that could possibly be done," said Vitaly Davydov, deputy head of the Federal Space Agency, Itar-Tass reported.