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Russia's Space Agency Confirms 18th ISS Expedition

Fiel image.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Sep 24, 2008
Russia's Space Agency confirmed Tuesday the composition of the main crew for the 18th International Space Station expedition.

The crew, scheduled to lift off from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan on October 12 on board the Soyuz TMA-12 craft, will comprise U.S. astronaut Commander Mike Fincke, Russian astronaut Flight Engineer Yuri Lonchakov, and U.S. space tourist Richard Garriott.

The crew members have successfully passed their preflight tests and medical checkup.

The current ISS crew comprises Russian cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, and U.S. astronaut Greg Chamitoff.

American millionaire Richard Garriott, who made his fortune on the development of online computer games, including the popular Ultima Online, will become the sixth space tourist to travel to ISS. The trip cost him $30 million.

Some reports earlier said he may participate in onboard scientific experiments and even conduct a space walk.

Space tourists started flying to the ISS in 2001. Dennis Tito, an American businessman and former NASA scientist, became the first space tourist when he visited the ISS in 2001. He was followed by South African computer millionaire Mark Shuttleworth in 2002, and Gregory Olsen, a U.S. entrepreneur and scientist, in 2005.

In 2006, Anousheh Ansari, a U.S. citizen of Iranian descent and communications head, became the first female space tourist, followed in 2007 by Charles Simonyi, a U.S. citizen born in Hungary and a key figure in developing Microsoft's Word and Excel applications.

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The US Has No Option But To Use Russia's Soyuz Craft
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Sep 23, 2008
After 2010, the United States will likely be unable to deliver its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on its own. For several years Russia's Soyuz craft will remain the only vehicle available to do that, and the U.S. may find it hard to do without Russian cooperation.

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