December 20, 2009

Expedition 22 Launches

NASA astronaut T.J. Creamer, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, all flight engineers, launched in their Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 4:52 p.m. EST Sunday to begin a two-day journey to the International Space Station.

Less than 10 minutes after launch, their spacecraft reached orbit and its antennas and solar arrays were deployed.

NASA astronaut and Expedition 22 Commander Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonaut and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev are currently the sole residents on the station, having arrived Oct. 2 aboard their Soyuz TMA-16 spacecraft.

Creamer, Kotov and Noguchi will complete the Expedition 22 crew when they dock to the station on Dec. 22.

Creamer, 50, a U.S. Army colonel from Upper Marlboro, Md., will be 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, will be 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, will be 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.


Image Caption: Expedition 22 flight engineers Oleg Kotov, T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV


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