Expedition 18 Crew Launches from Baikonur

ISS News

Commander Edward Michael "Mike" Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Valentinovich Lonchakov of the 18th International Space Station crew launched in their Soyuz TMA-13 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:01 a.m. EDT Sunday to begin a six-month stay in space.

Less than 10 minutes after launch their spacecraft reached orbit, and its antennas and solar arrays were deployed shortly afterward.

With Fincke, an Air Force colonel, and Lonchakov, a colonel in the Russian Air Force, is spaceflight participant Richard Garriott, flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

Garriott will return to Earth with Expedition 17 crew members, Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko, in their Soyuz TMA-12 on Oct. 23. Expedition 17 launched to the station April 8.

Expedition 18 crew members will be welcomed by the Expedition 17 crew, including astronaut Gregory