Russian capsule docks with Alpha

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- The three men living on the international space station welcomed their first guests Tuesday with the arrival of a Russian spaceship carrying two cosmonauts and a French researcher.

"It's a great thrill to see some people after 75 days on orbit, to have people visit us," said the space station's American commander, Frank Culbertson. He presented the three visitors with red shirts bearing his expedition's insignia.

Arriving via the Soyuz capsule were Russians Viktor Afanasyev and Konstantin Kozeyev and French astronaut-physician Claudie Haignere. Afanasyev, the commander of the Soyuz, steered the capsule in for the 250-mile-high linkup over China.

Haignere, the first European woman to visit the space station, led the way in. Each of the guests received a warm hug from Culbertson.

The visitors -- especially Haignere, a rheumatologist -- will conduct scientific experiments over the next week. They will return to Earth on Oct. 31.

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