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Soyuz Spacecraft Launches From Baikonur To Take Expedition 13 Crew To Space Station

By | October 13, 2008

      A Russian Soyuz spacecraft launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome yesterday to take a new crew to the International Space Station for a half-year stay in orbit.

      That crew includes Expedition 18 Commander Edward Michael "Mike" Fincke, a U.S. astronaut and Air Force colonel, and Flight Engineer Yury Valentinovich Lonchakov, a Russian cosmonaut and colonel in the Russian Air Force.

      Also flying on the Soyuz will be a space tourist. Spaceflight participant Richard Garriott is flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency. He will return to Earth with Expedition 17 crew members departing the space station after a lengthy stay in orbit. They are Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko, Russian cosmonauts, crew members in Expedition 17 that launched to the station April 8.

      Expedition 17 crew members also have included U.S. astronaut Gregory E. Chamitoff. He launched to the space station on the STS-124 mission of Space Shuttle Discovery May 31. He joined Expedition 17 in progress and will provide Expedition 18 with an experienced flight engineer for the first part of its increment.

      Fincke, 41, is making his second long-duration flight on the station. He is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and holds master’s degrees from Stanford University and the University of Houston, Clear Lake.

      He served as an Air Force flight test engineer. He was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 1996. He was commander of the second NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO 2), working seven days on the seafloor off Florida in May 2002. He served as a flight engineer on the space station Expedition 9 from April to October 2004.

      Lonchakov, 43, is a graduate of the Orenburg Air Force Pilot School and the Zhukovski Air Force Academy. He is a class 1 air force pilot. He has more than 1,400 hours of flight time. He also is a paratroop training instructor with 526 jumps.

      He was selected as a test cosmonaut candidate in late 1997. He has flown two previous space missions, STS-100 to the station in April 2001 and a Soyuz delivery flight to the station in October and November 2002.

      In a later flight, U.S. astronaut Sandra H. Magnus is scheduled to fly to the station on Space Shuttle Endeavour on the STS-126 Mission that launches Nov. 14.

      She is to replace Chamitoff as a flight engineer on Expedition 18.

      Magnus, 43, will be replaced near the end of Expedition 18 by Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will launch on Space Shuttle Discovery on the STS-119 Mission.

      Magnus holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics from the University of Missouri-Rolla and a Ph.D. from Georgia Institute of Technology.

      She was selected as an astronaut in 1996. Magnus will be making her second spaceflight. She flew as a mission specialist on STS-112 in October 2002.

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