Monday, May 25, 2009

Space Station to Expand Crew Size to Six

This weekend, the sign in earth orbit will read: Welcome to Space Station. Population 6.

A new era aboard the international space station will begin this Friday as a Russian, Canadian and European crew arrives to join an existing crew of three to form the new Expedition 20 crew of six.

Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk and European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne are set the lift-off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Wednesday, May 27th at 6:34 am EDT, aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket.

Two days following launch, the crew's Soyuz TMA craft will dock with the orbiting outpost in space at 8:36 am EDT on Friday, as the two crafts fly 220 statue miles above Russia.

Early this morning, the Soyuz rocket for Wednesday flight was moved to her launch pad [above], and moved to the vertical position.

The new Expedition 20 crew will give the space station not just a larger crew size, but a crew which will represent the five partner space agencies as they carry out more scientific studies to increase humankind's knowledge in multiple experiment modules.

The current Expedition 19 crew of Russian commander Gennady Padalka, American Michael Barratt and Japan's Koichi Wakata had a successful but busy week last week as they drank from the newly running Water Recovery System - a machine which recycles used or waste water into fresh drinking water. This will help the crews to continue to have drinkable water as the crew size increases.

Upcoming for the Expedition crew of six in June will be a spacewalk on June 5th, and the docking by the shuttle Endeavour as NASA delivers the final experiment platform for the Japanese module.

When Endeavour docks to space station about June 15th, there will be 13 humans aboard the orbital outpost.

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