Soyuz Docks With ISS: Haignere First European Woman To Visit Station
Baikonur (AFP) Oct 23, 2001
French cosmonaut Claudie Haignere became the first European woman to visit the International Space Station on Tuesday when a Russian Soyuz vessel successfully docked with the ISS.
The space craft carrying Haignere, a 44-year-old space biologist, and two Russian cosmonauts, Viktor Afanasiev and Konstantin Kozeyev, reached the ISS at 2:44 pm Moscow time (1044 GMT).
She became the second EU citizen to visit the ISS, after Italian Umberto Guidoni who undertook a mission aboard a US spaceship last April, and only the second woman after US cosmonaut Susan Helms.
Haignere's arrival at the space station was witnessed by French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who visited the mission control centre, outside Moscow, during an official visit to Russia.
"I want to warmly congratulate you on the part of President Vladimir Putin and the government members accompanying me," Jospin told Haignere during a brief audio-video linkup with the ISS.
The docking of the Soyuz, which blasted off Sunday from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, as part of a 10-day Franco-Russian mission, took place without a hitch, mission control officials told AFP.
The Soyuz will return to Earth on October 31.
Haignere, 44, and the two Russians are expected to deliver a new emergency capsule to the ISS, which is currently manned by a US-Russian team.
A Soyuz emergency capsule is permanently docked to the ISS, but has to be replaced every six months.
The team is also due to carry out a variety of scientific experiments aboard the orbiting platform under the auspices of the Andromeda programme developed by the French space agency.
As part of the Aquarius experiment, Haignere will study the development of embryos in animals, mostly frogs and salamanders, in zero-gravity conditions, officials said.
She will also study the Earth's atmosphere, namely the influence of aerosols on the formation of clouds, and take pictures of areas of the planet that are turning into deserts or facing other environmental problems.
The United States is the leading partner in the 16-nation ISS project.
Haignere's space flight is the eighth involving a Franco-Russian team, and both sides have stressed its importance as a symbol of their continuing cooperation.
Russia has lately boosted its ties with France in the field of space research, and Paris said in July that it might be prepared to allow Russia to launch its Soyuz rockets from the European space centre at Kourou, in French Guyana.
Haignere has made one previous space-flight, also aboard a Russian rocket, to the Mir orbiting platform in 1996, while fellow engineer Kozeyev is making his debut flight.
She was accompanied to Baikonur by some members of her family including her husband Jean-Pierre, also a cosmonaut, who described the final moment of lift-off as "a release, the accomplishment of all our hopes."
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