Expedition 13: Back to a Three-Person Crew
The 13th crew of the International Space Station is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan March 29 on a mission that will see a return to a three-person station crew and resumption of station assembly.
Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov and NASA ISS Science Officer Jeffrey Williams will be joined on their Soyuz TMA spacecraft by Brazilian Astronaut Marcos Pontes. He will spend eight days on the station before returning to Earth with the Expedition 12 crew.
E12 Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev are scheduled to leave the station in their Soyuz TMA with Pontes and land on April 8.
During their six-month stay on the orbiting laboratory Vinogradov (vee no GRAD off) and Williams will be joined by European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Thomas Reiter (RYE ter). The German astronaut is scheduled to launch aboard Discovery on the STS-121 shuttle mission.
His arrival will restore the station crew to three members for the first time since May 2003. Crew size was reduced to two and shuttle flights were put on hold after the Columbia accident Feb. 1, 2003.
Reiter, the first non-Russian and non-U.S. long-duration station crewmember, will remain on the orbiting laboratory during the first part of E14. That will provide a continuity that should improve handoffs from one increment crew to another.
When Discovery brings Reiter to the station, the third crewmember should dramatically increase crew time available for science activities.
Discovery also will bring supplies, food, water, fuel and equipment, including a new umbilical cable system for the station’s Mobile Transporter rail car to replace an umbilical cut by an equipment malfunction.
Also scheduled for launch during E13 is Atlantis on STS-115, the first station assembly mission since STS-113 launched Nov. 23, 2002. Atlantis will bring to the station a second port truss segment and a second set of solar arrays and radiator.
Vinogradov is a veteran of a 198-day mission aboard the Russian space station Mir, during which he did five spacewalks. Williams is an Army colonel and flew on STS-101 in May 2000. He did one spacewalk during that flight. Reiter too is a veteran of one Mir mission, in 1995 and 1996. He did two spacewalks on that flight.
Reiter is flying under a contract between ESA and the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos. Pontes, a lieutenant colonel in the Brazilian Air Force, also is flying under a commercial agreement with Roscosmos.
During their six months aboard the station, Vinogradov and Williams, later to be joined by Reiter, will conduct scientific experiments and station maintenance. They will see the arrival of two unpiloted Progress cargo spacecraft.
Two spacewalks, one in U.S. spacesuits by Williams and Reiter and the other in Russian spacesuits by Vinogradov and Williams, are scheduled during the increment.