Remaining Expedition 25 crew to launch to International Space Station

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Expedition 25 crew pose for a picture at the Johnson Space Center. Pictured at center right is NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock, commander. Also pictured (from the left) are Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Kaleri; NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Shannon Walker; along with Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, all flight engineers.

The remaining members of the Expedition 25 crew are set to launch to the International Space Station on Thursday at 7:10 pm EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which will return the station to its full complement of 6 persons. They will launch in the Russian Soyuz TMA-01M vehicle and dock on Saturday. According to Space Fellowship there is only one Soyuz capsule currently docked to the station, for emergency escape.

Currently there are three astronauts on the station: Commander Doug Wheelock and Flight Engineers Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin. The additional crew scheduled to join them are Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka, Alexander Kaleri, and Scott Kelly.

The three crew now on the station were part of Expedition 24; the other half of that Expedition crew have returned to Earth. When the three now on the station are replaced, the three now about to join them will become half of Expedition 26.

While the astronauts wait for their counterparts' arrival, they continue work on the station. Wheelock and Walker both participated in an experiment to study the long term effects of exposure to microgravity on crew members. Wheelock was collecting biological samples to place into the Human Research Facility which is a science rack in the station's Destiny module. Meanwhile, Flight Engineer Fyodor Yurchikhin was working in the Russian segment of the station, swapping mechanical gear and installing new software. He also updated the station's inventory management system.

The crew is also doing daily exercises to strengthen their muscles and bones to compensate for the effects of microgravity. The exercise machines include a cycle ergometer, a treadmill, and a device that simulates free-weights on Earth and pistons in vacuum cylinders.