Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, NASA astronaut TJ Creamer, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi launched aboard Soyuz TMA-17 to the International Space Station on Sunday at 3:52 p.m. CST from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Credit: NASA TV
The three Soyuz crew members are scheduled to dock with their home for the next six months at 4:58 p.m., Tuesday. They will join Expedition 22 crew members Jeff Williams, a NASA astronaut and the station commander, and Max Suraev, a Russian cosmonaut and station flight engineer, aboard the orbiting laboratory.
The station's five residents have some busy months ahead. Kotov and Suraev will conduct a planned spacewalk in January from the Pirs airlock, part of the station's Russian segment. Less than a week later, Williams and Suraev will fly the Soyuz spacecraft that brought them to the station from its current location on the end of the outpost's Zvezda service module to the new Poisk module.
In February, the crew will welcome a Progress unmanned resupply ship and space shuttle Endeavour's STS-130 mission. Endeavour and its crew will deliver the new Tranquility node and its cupola, one of the last major portions of the station to be installed.
Creamer, 50, a U.S. Army colonel from Upper Marlboro, Md., is making his first spaceflight. Assigned to NASA's Johnson Space Center in 1995 as a space shuttle vehicle integration test engineer, he supported eight shuttle missions as vehicle integration test team lead and specialized in coordinating the information technologies for the Astronaut Office. Selected as an astronaut in 1998, Creamer worked with hardware integration and robotics and was a support astronaut for Expedition 12.
Kotov, 44, a physician and Russian Air Force colonel, is making his second spaceflight and serving his second tour aboard the station. Selected as a cosmonaut in 1996, he trained as a cosmonaut researcher for a flight on the Soyuz and as a backup crew member to the Mir-26 mission. A former lead test doctor at Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, he served as a flight engineer and Soyuz commander on the Expedition 15 mission in 2007. He will be a flight engineer for Expedition 22 and assume the duties of Expedition 23 commander when Williams departs in March 2010.
Noguchi, 44, an aeronautical engineer from Chigasaki, Kanagawa, Japan, is making his second spaceflight. He was selected by the National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA), now JAXA, as an astronaut candidate in 1996 and trained at Johnson Space Center. After completing his astronaut training, he supported development and integration of the station’s Japanese Kibo experiment module. Noguchi flew on the STS-114 return-to-flight mission of Discovery in 2005. He has logged nearly 14 days in space, including more than 20 hours of spacewalks to test new procedures for shuttle inspection and repair techniques.