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NASA first-time flyer to join International Space Station crews

NASA announced two American astronauts will be joining the crews on the International Space Station, one of which is a first-time space flyer. During their five-month mission, the astronauts will take part in approximately 250 research investigations and technology demonstrations.

Joe Acaba, a veteran astronaut, and Vande Hei, a first-time space flyer, as well as veteran cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, will launch to the space station aboard the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft September 13, 2017, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. They will join the space station’s Expedition 53 and 54 crews, and return to Earth in March 2018.

According to a NASA press release, during their planned five-month mission, the station crew members will take part in approximately 250 research investigations and technology demonstrations not possible on Earth in order to advance scientific knowledge of Earth, space, physical and biological sciences. Science conducted on the space station continues to yield benefits for humanity and will enable future long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space, including Mars.


This will be Acaba’s third trip to the space station and his second long-duration mission. He was selected as an astronaut in 2004, and flew aboard space shuttle Discovery on the STS-119 mission to deliver the final pair of power-generating solar array wings and a truss element to the space station in 2009. He returned to the station for a longer stay in 2012, as part of the station’s Expedition 31 and 32 crews. He has logged a total of 138 days in space during two missions.

NASA astronaut Vande Hei reported to the Johnson Space Center in July 2006 to serve as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) in the Mission Control Center, Houston. He served as an International Space Station CAPCOM for Expeditions 15 to 20 and STS-122, 123, 124, 126 and 127. Vande Hei was selected in June 2009 as a member of the 20th NASA astronaut class. He completed astronaut candidate training in June 2011, after which he continued to serve as a CAPCOM. From June 2012 to May 2013, he served as the Astronaut Office’s Director of Operations in Russia.

John Beckett