More than 10 years after construction of the International Space Station began, the five partner agencies involved will mark May 29 as the first time the orbiting scientific platform will host a full complement of six full-time crew members.
Departing May 27 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, a Russian Soyuz 19 spacecraft will carry Cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian Space Agency Astronaut Robert Thirsk and European Space Agency Astronaut Frank De Winne. They will join current ISS crew members Commander Gennady Padalka of Russia and Flight Engineer Michael Barratt of America and Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata of Japan.
It also will be the first time all five partner agencies-NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency-are represented by crew members on the orbiting laboratory, and will begin Expedition 20, still under the command of Expedition 19 Commander Gennady Padalka.
Just days after the new crew settles in, NASA plans to launch the Space Shuttle Endeavour June 13 for the 32nd construction flight to the ISS and the last of a series of three flights dedicated to the assembly of the Japanese Kibo laboratory complex, an external scientific platform.
The Endeavour mission will also repair and replace components of the ISS electrical production system. Five spacewalks are scheduled for the mission.