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31 May, 2010 09:39

No national boundaries as new ISS crew gets ready for take-off

The next crew to go to International Space Station has been unveiled in Moscow. One cosmonaut and two astronauts have passed rigorous tests and will leave for orbit in about two weeks.

The crew – which consists of Russia’s Fyodor Yurchikhin, and Douglas Wheelock and Shannon Walker from NASA – will spend a total of 164 days on the ISS.

Last week the crew members went through pre-flight training sessions and passed exams on mockups of a Soyuz space shuttle and the Russian segment of the ISS.

It will be the third space flight for the Russian cosmonaut, who will also act as captain for the crew and a flight engineer onboard the ISS.

The crew is to set off for space on June 16 and is at its final preparation stage at the moment. According to Yurchikhin, its members work as a “real team” now.

Yurchikhin also mentioned that a toy dog will become the lucky mascot of the upcoming flight. He said that the toy has already served him well in his two previous flights.

During their six-month-long shift, the crew will conduct a number of scientific experiments inside and outside the ISS, receive two Russian cargo vessels “Progress”, and one or two American shuttles.

The Russian program also includes three spacewalks while the American side has scheduled two. American astronauts will live in the US segment of the station.

According to captain Fyodor Yurchikhin, up in space all national boundaries are non-existent and the group works as one body.

“We do not have in our expedition an American and Russian crew. We have only our team: only Shannon, only Doug and me,” he told the news conference.