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Image above: At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 25 Flight Engineers Scott Kelly, Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka (left to right) are pictured in front of their Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft. Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov
At the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Kaleri made final preparations for their launch Thursday aboard the Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft to the International Space Station. Their two-day journey to the station will begin with a launch set for 7:10 p.m. EDT. NASA TV coverage of the launch will begin at 6:15 p.m.
Kelly, Skripochka and Kaleri are scheduled to dock to the station’s Poisk module Saturday at 8:02 p.m. completing the Expedition 25 crew.
Welcoming them aboard will be current station residents, Expedition 25 Commander Doug Wheelock and Flight Engineers Fyodor Yurchikhin and Shannon Walker. Wheelock, Yurchikhin and Walker arrived June 17 aboard their Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The crew of the international space station had a close call with space junk Thursday. The three astronauts briefly took refuge inside a Russian escape capsule before returning inside the space station. Officials were worried that the orbiting outpost might get hit with a small piece of passing space debris. Tiny pieces of debris could cause a fatal loss of air pressure in the station.
Image above: Sergei Volkov, Expedition 17 commander, relaxes outside the Soyuz TMA-12 capsule after landing in Kazakhstan. Image credit: NASA TV
Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko of the 17th International Space Station crew landed on the steppes of Kazakhstan at 11:37 p.m. EDT Thursday after more than six months days in space.
All three people aboard the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft were reported to be in good condition after their re-entry and landing.
A Russian recovery team and NASA personnel reached the landing site by helicopter shortly after the Soyuz touched down. They helped the crew members into reclining chairs for medical tests and set up a medical tent nearby.
With Volkov and Kononenko was spaceflight participant Richard Garriott. He launched to the station Oct. 12 with the Expedition 18 crew, Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov, under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency.
Astronaut Gregory Chamitoff came to the station aboard Discovery on its STS-124 mission, launched May 31. He served for the last part of Expedition 17 as a flight engineer. He remains aboard the station as a member of the Expedition 18 crew.
Expedition 17 crew members undocked their Soyuz spacecraft from the station at 8:16 p.m. Thursday. The deorbit burn to slow the Soyuz and begin its descent toward the Earth took place at 10:45 a.m.
When they landed, Volkov and Kononenko had spent 199 days in space on their Expedition 17 flight, 197 of them on the station.
Volkov, 35, a lieutenant in the Russian air force, returned from his first spaceflight. Kononenko, a spacecraft design engineer, also completed his first spaceflight.
Image above: The crew members of Expeditions 17 and 18 participate in an interview aboard the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA TV
Commander Edward Michael "Mike" Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Valentinovich Lonchakov of the 18th International Space Station crew docked their Soyuz TMA-13 to the Earth-facing port of the Zarya module at 4:26 a.m. EDT Tuesday.
Hatches between the two spacecraft were opened at 5:55 a.m. A welcome ceremony and a safety briefing for the new arrivals followed.
The new crew launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:01 a.m. 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, is spaceflight participant Richard Garriott, flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency.
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.
Aboard the station to welcome Expedition 18 crew members was the Expedition 17 crew, including astronaut Gregory E. Chamitoff. He 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 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 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.
The Expedition 16 crew members are in good spirits after they safely landed their Soyuz spacecraft Saturday in the steppes of Kazakhstan at approximately 4:30 a.m. EDT. Spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi also returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz. The landing was about 295 miles from the expected landing site, delaying the recovery forces' arrival to the spacecraft by approximately 45 minutes.
Now at Star City, Russia, Astronaut Peggy Whitson and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko launched to the International Space Station on Oct. 10, 2007, and spent 192 days in space.
On Monday, Expedition 17 crew members conducted a test of the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle's reboost engines. Those engines can be used to lift the orbit of the station to a higher altitude while the cargo craft is docked to the orbiting complex. Another test will be conducted on Thursday, setting the station in the proper configuration for the arrival of space shuttle Discovery on the STS-124 mission in June.
Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman also conducted a ham radio session with patients of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Fla.