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STAR CITY, August 10. /TASS/. Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center’s Interdepartmental commission has approved Monday the next crew to the International Space Station (ISS).
"The main and double crewmembers have been approved," the center told TASS.
The main crew that will fly to ISS on Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft on September 2 will include Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andreas Mogensen and Kazakhstani cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov.
Commander Sergey Volkov will stay at ISS for six months, while his colleagues will work in space for 10 days.
Doubles will include Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Sergey Prokopyev and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Kazakhstani cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov will replace British singer Sarah Brightman who refused to fly to ISS due to family circumstances. Aimbetov had an opportunity to fly to ISS in 2009 but Kazakhstan suspended its participation in the project due to cuts in financing. Aimbetov’s flight to space will cost Kazakhstan around $20 million.
For Volkov, son of Soviet cosmonaut Alexander Volkov, this will be the fourth flight to space. He spent 365 days - precisely a year - in space, and went for space walks three times. For Morgensen and Aimbetov, this will be the first flight.
International Space Station (ISS) participants have announced the crew members for mission to the orbiting laboratory in 2017, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) said last week.
This will be the first space flight for four astronauts from the crew - Russian cosmonaut Nikolay Tikhonov, US astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Jack Fischer and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Tikhonov and Vande Hei will fly to ISS aboard the Soyuz spacecraft together with experienced Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin in March 2017 to join Pesquet, US astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy. Two months after that, Pesquet, Whitson and Novitskiy, who will start their mission in November 2016, will return to the Earth, to be replaced by another experienced Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikin, ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli and US astronaut Jack Fischer.
"The Expedition 51 and 52 crews will continue important research that advances NASA's journey to Mars while making discoveries that can benefit all of humanity," NASA said. "With adequate funding and technical progress on NASA's Commercial Crew Program, astronauts Vande Hei and Fischer are expected to be at the station during the first test flights of the Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, targeted for 2017.".