NASA and its International Partners have assigned new
crews to fly to the International Space Station this year. As
Expedition 9, NASA astronaut Edward Michael “Mike” Fincke and
Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka will be the next crew to live
aboard the complex. NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao and Russian
cosmonaut Salizhan S. Sharipov will serve as Expedition 10.

Fincke and Padalka are set for launch April 18 on a six-month
mission. Padalka will serve as Expedition 9 commander and Soyuz
commander, and Fincke will be the NASA Space Station science
officer and flight engineer. They have been training together
as a Space Station crew since March 2002.

Chiao and Sharipov will serve as backup for Expedition 9 and as
the prime crew for Expedition 10. They’re scheduled to launch
to the Space Station in October. Chiao will serve as the
expedition commander and NASA science officer, and Sharipov
will serve as Soyuz commander and flight engineer. Astronaut
William S. McArthur Jr. and cosmonaut Valery I. Tokarev will
serve as the Expedition 10 backup crew.

Russia proposed the new assignment to International Space
Station partners through the Multilateral Crew Operations Panel
(MCOP). The MCOP agreed to the exchange this week. The decision
is still subject to internal review by each partner agency, and
NASA anticipates that process to be completed soon.

In November 2003, McArthur and cosmonaut Tokarev were named as
Expedition 9 commander and flight engineer.

In mid-January, astronaut Chiao was named as the Expedition 9
commander due to a temporary medical issue related to
McArthur’s qualification for that long-duration flight.

Following Chiao’s assignment to fly with Tokarev, NASA and its
partners continued to evaluate available crew resources for
upcoming flights and decided it was optimal to keep teams
together. Since Fincke and Padalka had trained together for
years, as had Chiao and Sharipov, the partners made the
decision to modify the crew assignments.

“As we’ve continued to evaluate the best use of crew training
and resources, we altered our plans to accommodate a change in
the Expedition 9 and 10 crews,” Chief Astronaut Kent Rominger
said. “Fortunately, the partnership has a pool of highly
qualified crew members available, which gives us the
flexibility to deal with unexpected circumstances. After a very
thorough evaluation by our partners, I’m confident that these
assignments make the very best use of our crew resources and
skills and will ensure the flights’ full success.”

European Space Agency Astronaut Andre Kuipers will also launch
aboard the Soyuz with Fincke and Padalka in April. Kuipers will
spend about a week aboard the Station conducting scientific
experiments under a commercial agreement between the European
Space Agency and Russia. Kuipers will return to Earth with
Expedition 8 crewmembers Mike Foale and Alexander Kaleri.

Fincke, a U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, is a native of
Emsworth, Pa. He will be making his first space flight. Fincke
has trained as a backup Station crewmember for two previous
missions, Expeditions 4 and 5.

Padalka also has trained as a backup Station crewmember with
Fincke for Expedition 4. Padalka will be making his second
space flight, having completed 198 days aboard the Russian Mir
Space Station in February 1999.

Biographies of Chiao and Sharipov can be found online at:

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