Crew Includes South Korea's First Spacefarer
Commander Sergei Alexandrovich Volkov and cosmonaut Oleg
Dmitrievich Kononenko of the 17th International Space Station crew
launched in their Soyuz TMA-12 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in
Kazakhstan at 0716 EDT Tuesday to begin a six-month stay in
Less than 10 minutes after launch their spacecraft reached
orbit, and its antennas and solar arrays were deployed shortly
With Volkov, a lieutenant colonel in the Russian Air Force, and
Kononenko is spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi. She is a South
Korean flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space
Yi will return to Earth with Expedition 16 crew members,
Commander Peggy Whitson and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko in
their Soyuz TMA-11 on April 19. Expedition 16 launched to the
station October 10.
Expedition 17 crew members will be welcomed by the Expedition 16
crew, including astronaut Garrett Reisman, after their docking to
the orbiting laboratory, scheduled for Thursday. Reisman launched
to the station on the STS-123 mission of Endeavour March 11. He
joined Expedition 16 in progress and will provide Expedition 17
with an experienced flight engineer for the first part of its
Volkov, 35, is making his first flight into space. He is a
graduate of the Tambov Air Force Academy for Pilots. After service
as an air force pilot he began cosmonaut training in December 1997.
He trained with the Expedition 11 crew and as a backup Expedition
13 crew member. He is the son of cosmonaut Alexander Volkov, who
flew three long-duration missions in Soviet and Russian space
stations from 1985 to 1992.
Kononenko, 43, also is making his first spaceflight. He is a
graduate of the Aviation Institute and worked at the Russian Space
Agency's Central Specialized Design Bureau. He began cosmonaut
training in June 1996. He trained with the Expedition 9 and
Expedition 11 crews.
Astronaut Greg Chamitoff is scheduled to launch on the STS-124
flight of Discovery to join Expedition 17 in progress. He holds a
Ph.D. in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute
of Technology. He was selected as an astronaut for the class of
1998. He will be making his first spaceflight.
Two Expedition 18 crew members are expected to arrive next fall
to replace Volkov and Kononenko.