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Mission or Study ID:   Expedition 18
International Space Station (ISS)
International Space Station
Launch/Start Date:
Landing/End Date:
187 days
STS-126 Crew Patch

Commander Edward Michael "Mike" Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Valentinovich Lonchakov of the 18th International Space Station crew docked their Soyuz TMA-13 to the Earth-facing port of the Zarya module of the International Space Station on October 14, thus beginning Expedition 18.

With them was spaceflight participant Richard Garriott, flying under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency. Garriott returned to Earth with Expedition 17 crew members, Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko, in their Soyuz TMA-12 on Oct. 23.

Aboard the station to welcome Expedition 18 crew members was the Expedition 17 crew, including astronaut Gregory E. Chamitoff. He launched to the station on the STS-124 mission of Discovery May 31. He joined Expedition 17 in progress and will provide Expedition 18 with an experienced flight engineer for the first part of its increment.

Space Shuttle mission STS-126 is expected to dock with the ISS in November, and will deliver a new station flight engineer, Sandra Magnus, who is replacing Chamitoff.

A Russian Progress 31 unpiloted cargo craft is scheduled to launch in late November from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and dock to the station, delivering more equipment and supplies. The Progress 30 vehicle at the station, loaded with trash and other discarded items, will undock in November and burn on re-entry over the Pacific Ocean.

Many experiments from earlier Expeditions remain on board the space station and will continue to benefit from the long-term research platform provided by the orbiting laboratory. Continuing experiments include:

  • Behavioral Issues Associated with Long Duration Space Missions: Review of Astronaut Journals (ILSRA-2001-104) uses journals kept by the crew and surveys to study the effect of isolation to obtain quantitative data on the importance of different behavioral issues in long-duration crews. Results will help design equipment and procedures to allow astronauts to best cope with isolation and long duration spaceflight.
  • Nutritional Status Assessment (SMO 016E) This experiment will help the science program plan countermeasures (exercise and pharmaceuticals) for nutritional changes during. In addition, increased understanding of the connections between nutrition and bone loss has potential value for patients suffering bone loss on Earth.
  • Space Flight Induced Reactivation of Epstein-Barr Virus (98-E129) performs tests to study changes in human immune function. Using blood and urine samples collected before and after space flight, the study will provide insight for possible countermeasures to prevent the potential development of infectious illness in crewmembers during flight.
  • Sleep-Wake Actigraphy and Light Exposure During Spaceflight (DSO 634)
  • Validation of Procedures for Monitoring Crewmember Immune Function (SMO 015) will assess the clinical risks resulting from the adverse effects of spaceflight on the human immune system.

    Photo Gallery
    Experiments on this Mission