Veteran NASA astronaut William S. McArthur Jr., a retired U.S. Army colonel, and Russian Air Force Colonel Valery I. Tokarev are the next crew for the International Space Station.
McArthur and Tokarev trained as backups for the current Station crew. They will launch to the Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in April 2004.
Their six-month mission is designated Expedition 9. McArthur will serve as Station Commander and NASA Space Station Science Officer. Tokarev is the Soyuz Commander and Station Flight Engineer. During their stay aboard the orbiting research laboratory, the crew will conduct scientific studies in Earth sciences, life sciences, fundamental biology and microgravity.
European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut Andre Kuipers joins McArthur and Tokarev on their Soyuz flight. He will spend eight days aboard the Station conducting experiments under a commercial agreement between ESA and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency. Kuipers returns to Earth with Expedition 8 Commander Mike Foale and Soyuz Commander Alexander Kaleri. Kuipers’ backup for the flight is ESA Astronaut Gerhard Thiele.
McArthur flew on three Shuttle missions: STS-58 in 1993; STS-74 in 1995; and STS-92, a Station assembly flight, in 2000. Tokarev first flew in 1999 aboard STS-96. The backup crew for Expedition 9 is veteran NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao, Ph.D., and Russian cosmonaut Salizhan S. Sharipov. Chiao was a Mission Specialist aboard STS-65 in 1994; STS-72 in 1996; and STS-92 in 2000. Sharipov was a Mission Specialist on STS-89 in 1998.