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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft blasts off from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan February 24, 2023, in this still image taken from video. Roscosmos/Handout via REUTERS

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(Reuters) – A Russian spacecraft on a mission to bring back to Earth a crew stranded on the International Space Station (ISS) has docked at the station, Russian space agency Roscosmos said early on Sunday.

The Soyuz MS-23, which lifted off from Baikonour space centre in Kazakhstan on Friday, is to bring back Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, and U.S. astronaut Francisco Rubio in September.

The three had been due to end their mission in March. They were left stuck in space after the cooling system of their Soyuz MS-22 capsule started leaking two months ago. The Soyuz MS-22 ship is now to be brought back unmanned next month.

“Today at 03:58 Moscow time (00:58 GMT), the Soyuz MS-23 unmanned spacecraft docked to the Poisk module of the International Space Station in automatic mode,” Roscosmos said on the Telegram messaging platform.

The Poisk module is a docking module at the ISS.

Yuri Borisov, chief executive of Roscosmos, said that the next space walk of the Russian cosmonauts at the station will take place in April or May.

The Soyuz MS-23 ship carried 429 kilograms (946 lb) of additional cargo to the station, needed to extend the astronauts’ mission, Russian agencies reported.



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