The first four crews to live and work onboard the International Space Station (ISS) were named today by both the U.S. and Russian space agencies.

"This is an historic step in the evolution of the International Space Station," said Randy Brinkley, manager of the International Space Station. "These assignments are a clear indication of the maturity of the space station and the exciting reality that the ISS will soon be operational."

The first increment crew consists of American astronaut William M. Shepherd (Capt., USN), the expedition commander; Yuri Gidzenko (Col., Russian Air Force), the Soyuz vehicle commander; and cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, the flight engineer. All three have previous space flight experience. The crew is training for an early 1999 launch on a Soyuz vehicle for a planned five-month mission on the ISS.

Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev will be relieved in the summer of 1999, when the second incremental crew is scheduled to arrive aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis. That crew will be commanded by Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Usachev. He will be joined by American astronauts James S. Voss (Col., USA) and Susan J. Helms (Lt. Col., USAF). All three also have flown in space before.

The third crew to inhabit the International Space Station will begin a two-month mission launching aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in late 1999. That crew will be commanded by American astronaut Kenneth D. Bowersox (Commander, USN). Russian cosmonauts Vladimir Dezhurov, (Lt. Col., Russian Air Force) the Soyuz vehicle commander, and Mikhail Turin, the flight engineer, will join Bowersox to complete the crew. Bowersox and Dezhurov have prior spaceflight experience while Turin will be making his first flight into space. To provide maximum flexibility in schedule and training, this crew also will train as backup for the first resident space station crew of Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev.

The fourth resident crew will be commanded by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Onufrienko (Col., Russian Air Force). Onufrienko will be joined on this four-month mission by astronauts Carl E. Walz (Lt. Col., USAF) and Daniel Bursch (Cmdr., USN). All three have previously flown in space. They currently are scheduled to arrive at the station onboard Shuttle Discovery early in the year 2000 and will return to Earth on a Soyuz vehicle. They will train as the back-up crew for Usachev, Voss and Helms, the second station resident crew.

The continuing cooperation in joint U.S.-Russian space operations is reflected in the selection of these first ISS crews. Krikalev and Dezhurov, veterans of the Mir space station, also flew on the U.S. Space Shuttle, while Gidzenko, Usachev and Onufrienko flew with U.S. astronauts aboard the Mir on both long- duration and Shuttle-Mir docking missions.

These crews will continue the on-orbit construction of the space station through a series of scheduled space walks throughout the course of the first four missions. They will perform flight tests of the station hardware, conduct internal and external maintenance tasks, and develop the capability of the station to support the addition of science experiments.

For complete biographical information on these crews and other astronauts, see the NASA Internet astronaut biography home page at the following URL:


For information on the International Space Station, visit the space station home page at URL:


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