A few hours ago the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and after almost exactly six hours reached the International Space Station carrying three new crew members. The Soyuz traveled on the fast path normally used.
The three new members of the crew of the International Space Station, who complete the Expedition 43 crew, are:
Gennady Ivanovich Padalka. Born on June 21, 1958 in Krasnodar, in the then USSR and now in Russia, graduated from Eisk Military Aviation College in 1979. He served as a pilot in the Russian Air Force reaching the rank of colonel. He logged more than 1,500 flying hours on six types of airplanes as a first class pilot and has made over 300 parachute jumps as an instructor of Generale Parachute Training. He worked as an engineer-ecologist at the UNESCO International Center of Instruction Systems until 1994. He worked as an investigator for the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity project, funded by the US government to investigate the application of telemedicine diagnostic strategies in space. Selected as a cosmonaut candidate in 1989, he accumulated considerable experience on the Russian space station MIR between August 1998 and February 1999, and the International Space Station in 2002 as part of Expedition 9, in 2009 as part of Expedition 19/20 and in 2012 as part of Expedition 31/32. He carried out a total of nine spacewalks. He’s married and has three daughters.
Mikhail Borisovich Kornienko. Born on April 15, 1960 in Syzran, in the then USSR and now in Russia, served in the then Soviet army and then graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute as a liquid propellant rocket engines mechanical engineer. He worked for years in the aerospace industry until in 1998 he was selected as a cosmonaut candidate. In 2010 he was part of the Expedition 23/23 on the International Space Station. He completed one spacewalk. He is married and has a daughter.
Scott Joseph Kelly. Born on February 21, 1964 in Orange, New Jersey, USA, he graduated at State University of New York Maritime College and received his Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps commission. He became a naval aviator in the US Navy where he served as a test pilot with over 8,000 flight hours in more than 40 types of airplanes. In 1996 he was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA. In 1999 he was part of the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery in the STS-103 mission. In 2002 he was the commander of the Aquarius underwater laboratory during the NEEMO 4 mission. In 2005 he was a member of the crew of the NEEMO 8 mission. In 2007 he was the commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavour in the STS-118 mission. He already served on the International Space Station in 2010/2011 as part of Expedition 25/26.
Generally, the members of the International Space Station crew spend about six months in space, this time there there’s a change because a very special mission lasting one year is starting. Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko will spend a year on the Station to make a series of more in-depth studies on human beings reactions to life in the microgravity of space.
This research will be useful to prepar future astronauts to long trips into deep space. It will be conducted in collaboration by NASA and Roscosmos but Scott Kelly’s exams will be even deeper because in parallel NASA will examine his twin brother, former astronaut Mark Kelly, on Earth. It’s a unique opportunity to compare the physical state of two persons.