May 2, 2006
NASA Picks Next Crew for Space Station
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA officials announced the next crew for the international space station Tuesday: an astronaut making her first space flight, a NASA veteran and a cosmonaut making a return trip to the station.
Astronauts Sunita Williams and Michael Lopez-Alegria will join Russian Mikhail Tyurin for the six-month mission scheduled to start in September.
Tyurin, who lived on the space station as a part of the Expedition 3 crew, will be the flight engineer and commander of the Soyuz vehicle, which will take him and Lopez-Alegria to the space station.
Williams, serving as flight engineer, will join the crew later after traveling to the space station aboard the space shuttle in her first space flight.
The space station's current occupants, Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. science officer Jeff Williams, are orbiting about 240 miles above Earth. Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency is scheduled to go to the space station aboard space shuttle Discovery in July, returning the size of the station crew to three members for the first time in three years. The crew was reduced to two members after NASA's shuttle fleet was grounded following the Columbia disaster.