The Russian Soyuz spacecraft docks at the International Space Station to bring back its stranded crew

(Reuters) – Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said early on Sunday that a Russian spacecraft on a mission to return a crew flying on the International Space Station to Earth had docked at the station.

The Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, which took off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, is scheduled to bring back Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin and American cosmonaut Francisco Rubio in September.

The three were due to finish their mission in March. They were left stranded in space after the cooling system on the Soyuz MS-22 capsule began leaking two months ago. The Soyuz MS-22 unmanned ship is now scheduled to be returned 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,” Roskosmos said on the Telegram messaging platform.

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The Poisk module is a docking module on the International Space Station.

The next space flight of Russian cosmonauts at the station will take place in April or May, said Yuri Borisov, CEO of Roscosmos.

Russian agencies reported that Soyuz MS23 carried 429 kilograms (946 pounds) of additional cargo to the station, which is needed to extend the astronauts’ mission.

(Reporting by Lydia Kelly from Melbourne); Editing by Kim Coghill

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