Russian Soyuz docks with ISS to replace damaged capsule

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An uncrewed Russian Soyuz capsule docked early Sunday with the International Space Station and will eventually bring home three astronauts whose initial return vehicle was damaged by a tiny meteoroid.

The MS-23 ship autonomously latched to the orbiting research lab, live video from ISS-partner NASA showed, completing the Soyuz’s two-day journey after launching off from Kazakhstan.

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It is expected to bring home US astronaut Frank Rubio and Russian cosmonauts Dmitry Petelin and Sergei Prokopyev in September.

The three arrived at the ISS last September aboard MS-22,and were originally only supposed to stay about six months, until the end of March.

But their capsule began leaking coolant in mid-December after being hit by what US and Russian officials believe was a tiny space rock.

Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, decided to send MS-23 to replace the damaged vessel, but without its own three planned crew members.

With no one to replace them, Rubio, Petelin and Prokopyev will now spend almost a year in space.

The damaged MS-22 is expected to depart the space station without passengers and return to Earth in late March.

There are four others currently on board the ISS, who arrived on a SpaceX Dragon capsule last October as part of the Crew-5 mission.

They are scheduled to be joined next week by members of the Crew-6 mission -- two Americans, an Emirati and a Russian -- who will also arrive aboard a SpaceX capsule expected to launch Monday from Florida.
After a few days of overlap, Crew-5 will then return to Earth.

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