Army astronaut to man Space Station

NASA and its international partners have selected U.S. Army astronaut Col. Jeffrey Williams and Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov as the next crew for the International Space Station in March.

Williams, a veteran of one space flight already, will be the first Army astronaut ever aboard the International Space Station. Retired Col. William S. McArthur is currently crewing the space station, but Williams will be the first active-duty Soldier.

Willams will serve as Expedition 13 flight engineer and NASA science officer.

Williams flew aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist in May 2000 on a 10-day space station assembly mission. During that mission, he performed a spacewalk lasting almost seven hours. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. He has master’s degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, Calif., and the Naval War College, Newport, R.I. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

He was selected as an astronaut in 1996 and now commands the NASA detachment of Army astronauts in Houston, Texas. There are currently five active-duty Army astronauts and two retired Army officers serving as astronauts.

Williams spent time preparing for the upcoming mission at the Russian Space Agency’s training base east of Moscow, nicknamed “Star City.”

The training at Star City included both theoretical and hands-on training in the classroom and simulators. In addition to building operational confidence and competency in vacuum chambers and practicing space walks underwater in the hydrolab, astronauts there practice winter survival skills in northern Russia and water survival in the Black Sea.

Vinogradov, a veteran of one long-duration spaceflight, will command Expedition 13. He flew aboard a Soyuz spacecraft to the Russian Mir Space Station as flight engineer for the 24th resident crew in 1997, a 198-day mission. During the mission, he performed five spacewalks. A graduate of Moscow Aviation Institute, he was selected as a cosmonaut in 1992.

Astronaut Mike Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin were selected to train as the back-up crew.

Williams and Vinogradov are scheduled to blast off in a Russian Soyuz (TMA-8) in March.

From U.S. Army

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