The next crew to call the International Space Station home is slated to arrive onboard Oct. 20. After relieving the Expedition 7 crew, Expedition 8 Commander and NASA ISS Science Officer Michael Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri are scheduled to spend about six months aboard the orbital outpost maintaining ISS operations and continuing science investigations.

The Expedition 8 crewmembers will travel to the Station aboard the ISS Soyuz 7 spacecraft. They will be joined by European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Pedro Duque, who will fly as part of a contract between ESA and Rosaviakosmos, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency.

Expedition 8 is slated to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, on Oct. 18. There will be a week of joint operations and handover activities before Duque and the Expedition 7 crew depart the ISS and return to Earth on Oct. 27 (U.S. time) aboard the ISS Soyuz 6 spacecraft.

Foale and Kaleri will work with a number of U.S. and Russian science experiments. Their flexible agenda could include research in the areas of physical and life sciences, space product development and long-term exposure of humans to microgravity. Most of their science work will be a continuation of experiments currently on the ISS. More experiments may be delivered by the ISS Progress 13, 14 and 15 cargo ships that are slated to arrive during their increment.

In February, Foale and Kaleri will become the first ISS crew to conduct a spacewalk without a crewmember present inside the Station. During their excursion, they will exchange material science experiments on the outside of the Station?s Russian segment and install experimental navigational equipment onto the Zvezda Service Module for the future docking of the ESA?s Automated Transfer Vehicle. It will be the 52nd spacewalk performed at the Station and the 27th based out of the orbital outpost itself. The spacewalkers will exit and re-enter the Station through the Pirs Docking Compartment and use Russian Orlan spacesuits.

Both Expedition 8 crewmembers are veterans of long-duration space flights. Foale spent 145 days in space in 1997 aboard the Mir space station and traveling to and from Mir on Space Shuttle missions STS-84 and STS-86, respectively. He also flew on four other shuttle missions – STS-45, STS-56, STS-63 and STS-103. He has spent more than 178 days in space.

Kaleri has amassed 416 days in space. He served aboard Mir three times – Mir missions 11, 22 and 28. Currently, Kaleri is 11th on the list of humans with the most time in space. He will occupy the fifth spot when he returns to Earth in late April 2004.

The Expedition 9 crew, which has yet to be named, will replace Foale and Kaleri. Expedition 8 will return to Earth aboard the Soyuz 7.

The Expedition 8 Mission Overview (868 Kb PDF) is available.

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