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The Soyuz space capsule has arrived to the International Space Station (ISS).

British astronaut Tim Peake and fellow crew members Russian Yuri Malenchenko and American Tim Kopra, docked with the ISS high above the Earth.

The crew controlled the approach manually, after complications with the usual automatic docking procedure.

Tim Peake is making history as the first official UK astronaut.

He was waved off by his wife and two sons at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan earlier on the day.

The launch was from the same place where Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space in 1961.

There were no reported problems during the blast-off.

However, docking with the space station – which is regarded as one of the most difficult stages of the journey – did not go entirely to plan when the crew had to steer the spacecraft in manually.Soyuz docked to ISS

The docking happened about 10 minutes after its scheduled time of 17:24 GMT.

It takes four orbits of Earth and about six hours to reach the ISS.

Having arrived safely, the team will have to wait around two hours before they can leave the capsule to allow safety checks and for the air pressure to be equalized.

In the meantime, the new arrivals will carry out routine checks for leaks.

ESA said the crew reported they were fine and were starting to shut down the spacecraft’s systems as they were no longer needed.

The Soyuz capsule will remain attached to serve as an escape vehicle if the ISS has to be evacuated in an emergency.

Once on board the ISS, the crew will work, sleep and exercise in a dozen modules, together about the same volume as two Boeing 747s.

The three crew members will join the existing taskforce on board the ISS – NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov.

Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko are approaching the ninth month of their one-year ISS mission.

A maximum of 10 crew members can live on the station.

Tim Peake will spend six months on board the ISS where he will conduct scientific experiments and carry out educational projects designed to attract young people into science.

New details have emerged about the air crash on 27 March 1968 that killed the first man in space – Yuri Gagarin.

Fellow cosmonaut Alexey Leonov claims an “unauthorized” plane flew too close to Yuri Gagarin’s fighter jet, sending it into a spin.

Yuri Gagarin and his flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin died when their MiG-15 went down near the town of Novoselovo, about 90 km (56 miles) from Moscow.

Secrecy surrounding the crash has led to vigorous speculation down the years.

A government investigation of the accident (which Alexey Leonov was part of) concluded that the MiG tried to avoid a “foreign object” – such as geese, or a hot air balloon.

On the conclusions of this original investigation, Alexey Leonov said: “That conclusion is believable to a civilian – not to a professional.”

Yuri Gagarin became the first person to journey into space on 12 April 1961, when his Vostok spacecraft completed a single orbit of Earth

Yuri Gagarin became the first person to journey into space on 12 April 1961, when his Vostok spacecraft completed a single orbit of Earth

In an interview with Russia Today, the cosmonaut – who, in 1965, became the first person to walk in space – claimed he had been permitted to share a declassified report showing that a Sukhoi fighter jet flew too close to Yuri Gagarin’s MiG, disrupting its flight.

“We knew that a Su-15 was scheduled to be tested that day, but it was supposed to be flying at the altitude of 10,000 metres or higher, not 450-500 metres. It was a violation of the flight procedure,” he told the television channel.

Alexey Leonov says Yuri Gagarin’s plane went into a spiral at 750 km/h following the close pass by the jet.

However, Alexey Leonov declined to name the Sukhoi pilot.

“My guess would be that one of the reasons for covering up the truth was to hide the fact that there was such a lapse so close to Moscow,” he explained.

The cosmonaut had already hinted in his 2004 book Two Sides of the Moon that a Sukhoi jet may have been flying below its minimum allowed altitude. Alexey Leonov had been flying a helicopter in the same area on the day of the accident and heard “two loud booms in the distance”.

Many other theories have been advanced in the ensuing years, including one that a cabin air vent was accidentally left open in Yuri Gagarin’s aircraft by the previous pilot. This, the theory claims, would have led to oxygen deprivation for the crew.

Yuri Gagarin became the first person to journey into space on 12 April 1961, when his Vostok spacecraft completed a single orbit of Earth.

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