Six-Person ISS Crew Gets To Work

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The first six-person crew of the International Space Station (ISS) has begun its first full week of operations, following the arrival of three new crewmembers on May 29.

On June 1, Expedition 20 Commander Gennady Padalka led his crewmates in an emergency egress drill in the morning. Padalka and Flight Engineer Michael Barratt also reviewed airlock procedures for a spacewalk slated for June 5, and practiced their photography skills in preparation to take pictures of Shuttle Endeavour's heat shield when it approaches the station during the upcoming STS-127 mission. Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata repaired the station's treadmill.

On May 29, Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko, Frank De Winne and Robert Thirsk docked their Soyuz TMA-15 to the International Space Station at 8:34 a.m., following a May 27 launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Hatches between the two spacecraft were opened at 10:14 a.m., kicking off Expedition 20 and bringing the station to its intended full crew complement of six for the first time ever.

Station crews had numbered three ever since the first crew arrived on Expedition 1 in November 2000. The doubled complement will allow significantly more science to be conducted aboard the station, with a lower percentage of crew time going to routine station maintenance.

Romanenko will serve as a flight engineer for Expeditions 20 and 21. De Winne will serve as a flight engineer for Expedition 20 and commander for Expedition 21. Thirsk will serve as a flight engineer for Expeditions 20 and 21. Wakata will return to Earth aboard Endeavour with the STS-127 crew. Expedition 20 also marks the first time all five ISS partner nations have been represented in orbit, with cosmonauts Padalka and Romanenko from Roscosmos, Barratt from NASA, Thirsk from the Canadian Space Agency, De Winne from the European Space Agency, and Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.

Due to launch June 13, Endeavour will carry an exposed experiment facility that will complete the Japanese Kibo laboratory module.

Expedition 20 crewmembers photo: NASA

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