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Sun, Apr 08, 2007

Expedition 15 On Its Way!

Scheduled For Monday Docking With ISS

Two cosmonauts and a 'tourinaut' are well on their way to the International Space Station. NASA reports Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and cosmonaut Oleg Kotov of the 15th International Space Station crew launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1331 EDT Saturday, to begin a six-month stay aboard.

Less than 10 minutes after launch their Soyuz TMA-10 capsule reached orbit, and its antennas and solar arrays were deployed. Indications so far point to a flawless launch.

With Yurchikhin and Kotov is Spaceflight Participant Charles Simonyi, an American flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency. He will return to Earth with Expedition 14, Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin, on April 20. Expedition 14 launched to the station last September 18.

As Aero-News reported, Expedition 15's spacecraft is scheduled to dock at the station Monday afternoon.

They will be welcomed by the Expedition 14 crew, including astronaut Sunita Williams, who will become their third Expedition 15 crew member.

Yurchikhin, 48, is making his second flight into space. He was a member of the STS-112 crew which launched to the station aboard Atlantis on October 7, 2002, with the Starboard 1 Truss. He holds a Ph.D. in economics and was named a cosmonaut-candidate in 1997.

Kotov, 41, is making his first spaceflight. He graduated from the Moscow Medical Academy in 1988, and was named a cosmonaut-candidate in 1996.

(Photo courtesy of NASA TV)

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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