Astronaut, Cosmonaut, And 'Tourist' Will Dock Monday
The 12th International Space Station crew and one "space flight
participant" lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome late Friday night,
heading towards a Monday rendezvous with the orbiting space
Commander William McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev
(photo below) launched aboard their Soyuz TMA spacecraft at 11:55
p.m. EDT Friday to begin a 182-day stay in space. The capsule
reached orbit a little less than nine minutes after liftoff, and
Russian flight controllers reported that all appeared normal.
According to a NASA press release, the Soyuz is scheduled to
dock with the station at 1:32 a.m. EDT on Oct. 3.
McArthur, 54, a retired Army colonel, is a veteran of three
shuttle flights, including one to the station and one to the
Russian space station Mir. Tokarev, 52, a colonel in the Russian
Air Force, is a veteran of one spaceflight, to the international
space station aboard a space shuttle.
Also onboard the Soyuz Friday was American Greg Olsen, the third
private citizen in space. Olsen is believed to have paid $20
million to the Russian Federal Space Agency to go into orbit (the
exact amount was not disclosed) but he won't be merely along for
the ride. During his stay on the ISS, Olsen will also participate
in experiments to study possible causes of nausea and lower back
Olsen said in an interview earlier this week he prefers the term
"space flight participant" over the somewhat-derisive "space
tourist," as he endured over 900 hours of training to participate
in the flight into orbit.
The American millionaire scientist will spend eight days aboard
the ISS, before returning to Earth with the Expedition 11 crew.
Commander Sergei Krikalev and NASA Science Officer John Phillips
have been on the orbiting laboratory since April.
The Expedition 11 crew and Olsen (photo below) will undock
Oct. 10 in the Soyuz TMA that brought Krikalev and
Phillips to the station April 16. A Soyuz is always kept
docked at the station while it is manned, for the crew to use to
return to Earth as well as to function as a "lifeboat" in case of a
situation requiring the crew to abandon the station.
Landing is scheduled for 9:08 p.m. EDT that day in the steppes
of Kazakhstan, winding up their 180-day excursion to the ISS.
Just after they board the station, McArthur and Tokarev will
receive a safety briefing and then begin extensive handover
briefings from their Expedition 11 predecessors. They will get
training on the station's Canadarm2 and on systems and experiments
on the station.
During their stay on the station the Expedition 12 crew will do
two or three spacewalks. The first, from the Quest airlock in U.S.
spacesuits, is planned for early November. Tasks include
installation of a camera group and retrieval of the station's
floating potential probe.
That will be McArthur's third spacewalk and the first for
About two weeks later
the crew members will board their Soyuz spacecraft and move it from
the Pirs docking compartment to a docking port on the Zarya module.
That will clear the Pirs for use of its airlock in a spacewalk
using Russian Orlan suits in December.
That spacewalk will focus on retrieving scientific experiments
and photography of a micrometeoroid monitoring system and the Soyuz
descent module's multilayer insulation.
A third spacewalk early next year in U.S. spacesuits is under
McArthur and Tokarev also are scheduled to welcome an unpiloted
Progress cargo craft to the station, just in time for Christmas.
That Progress will bring fuel, equipment, supplies, water, oxygen
and air to the station. Docking is planned for Dec. 23.
Station maintenance will occupy considerable time. They will
continue scientific investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory,
as well as a program of scientific education activities and Earth
Their replacements, the 13th crew of the station, are scheduled
to arrive in March.