A few hours ago the Soyuz TMA-17M 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. There were a couple of little problems because one of the spacecraft’s solar panels didn’t deploy and after the arrival it took longer than expected to balance the air pressure with the Station but in the end everything went well.
The three new members of the International Space Station crew, who complete the Expedition 44 crew, are:
Oleg Dmitriyevich Kononenko. Born on June 21, 1964 in Chardzhou, now known as Türkmenabat, in the then USSR and today in Turkmenistan, has acquired Russian nationality. He graduated in mechanical engineering at the N. E. Zhukovskiy Kharkiv Aviation Institute in 1988. He started working for the Russian space agency as an engineer and in 1996 was selected as a cosmonaut candidate. After training as backup for International Space Station crews, in 2008 he went there for the first time as part of Expedition 17. He returned to the Station in 2011 as part of the Expedition 30 and was the commander of Expedition 31 returning to Earth in July 2012. He completed a total of three spacewalks. In Russia, he received the honors of Hero of the Russian Federation, of Pilot-Cosmonaut of the Russian Federation and the Medal “For Merit in Space Exploration”. He also received the Star of the President in Turkmenistan and in the U.S.A. NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal and Space Flight Medal. He’s married and has a son and a daughter.
Kimiya Yui. Born on January 30, 1970 in Kawakami, Nagano, Japan, he graduated the National Defense Academy of Japan in 1992. He served as a pilot of F-15 Eagle, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 2012 he was part of the NEEMO (NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations) 16 mission in the Aquarius underwater laboratory off the Florida coast. This is his first space mission.
Norwood Kjell Lindgren. Born on January 23, 1973 in Taipei, Taiwan, he grew up mostly in England before moving to the U.S.A.. He earned a bachelor in biology at the US Air Force Academy in 1995, a master cardiovascular physiology at Colorado State University (CSU) in 1996 and a doctorate in medicine at the University of Colorado in 2002. As a physician, he’s been pursuing various research also linked to the aerospace field. In 2009 he was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate. This is his first space mission. He’s married and has three children.
The three crew members will remain on the International Space station for five months, a little less than normal. That’s because of the launch delay due to the investigations that followed the mishap at the Russian cargo spacecraft Progress M-27M launched on a Soyuz rocket just like the new Station’s crew members.