Launch From Baikonur Scheduled Early Sunday Morning
Commander Edward Michael "Mike" Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury
Valentinovich Lonchakov of the 18th International Space Station
crew are scheduled to launch in their Soyuz TMA-13 from the
Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan about 0300 EDT Sunday to begin a
six-month stay in space.
With Fincke, an Air Force colonel, and Lonchakov, a colonel in
the Russian Air Force, will be spaceflight participant Richard
Garriott, flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space
Garriott will return to Earth with Expedition 17 crew members,
Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko, in
their Soyuz TMA-12 on Oct. 23. Expedition 17 launched to the
station April 8.
Expedition 18 crew members will be welcomed by the Expedition 17
crew, including astronaut Gregory E. Chamitoff, after their docking
to the orbiting laboratory, scheduled for Tuesday. Chamitoff
launched to the station on the STS-124 mission of 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
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
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
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.
Astronaut Sandra H. Magnus is scheduled to fly to the station on
STS-126 to replace Chamitoff as a flight engineer on E18. Magnus,
43, will be replaced near the end of Expedition 18 by Japanese
astronaut Koichi Wakata, who will launch on 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