September 23, 2008

New Crewmembers of Iss, Souyz Tma-13 Approved

STAR CITY, Moscow region. Sept 23 (Interfax-AVN) - The Russian Federal Space Agency's interdepartmental commission has approved new crewmembers of the International Space Station (ISS) and the Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft: cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov, NASA astronaut Michael Fincke and space tourist Richard Garriott.

"Lonchakov was appointed Soyuz commander and the ISS flight engineer. Fincke will be the flight engineer aboard Soyuz and will command the ISS. Garriott was approved as a participant of the space flight," a source with the Cosmonaut Training Center told Interfax- AVN.

The astronauts will take off from Baikonur on October 12. Lonchakov and Fincke will stay aboard the ISS for about six months. They will replace members of the previous expedition cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Volkov. Garriott will be in space for nine days and will return back to Earth together with Kononenko and Volkov.

It is for the first time that two dynasties of astronauts will meet in space: Volkov is a son of cosmonaut Alexander Volkov and Garriott is a son of NASA astronaut Owen Kay Garriott.

The astronauts were preparing for the launch for about a year. Their training ended last week with pre-flight examinations.

Backup astronauts are Gennady Padalka from Russia, Michael Barratt from the United States and businessman Nik Halik from Australia.

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