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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Capsule Carrying New Crew Hooks Up with Space Station

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- A Russian capsule carrying a new crew for the international space station and Malaysia's first astronaut slipped into a berthing port at the orbital outpost early Friday as the space ships sailed 357 kilometers above Earth.

The Soyuz spacecraft blasted off Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

About 90 minutes after docking, hatches between the two vessels opened and NASA's Peggy Whitson, cosmonaut Yury Malenchenko and Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, an orthopedic surgeon and part-time model from Malaysia, floated aboard.

"Well, hello," one of the two Russian cosmonauts currently stationed on the outpost said through a translator. "Welcome on board."

Whitson and Malenchenko, who have both lived on the station previously, were to become the outpost's 16th crew and Whitson its first female commander.

The first from his country to fly into outer space, Shukor was scheduled to remain aboard the station for eight days conducting medical research while Whitson and Malenchenko learn about station operations from the current crew.

"I'm feeling very well," Shukor said in a televised briefing with officials and guests gathered at Mission Control outside Moscow. "I have lots of American and Russian friends on board."

Shukor's flight is part of a deal Russia cut to sell aircraft to Malaysia.

He will return to Earth on Oct. 21 with outgoing station commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and flight engineer Oleg Kotov.