Padalka and Barratt joined Flight Engineer Koichi Wakata, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who had earlier launched to the station aboard space shuttle Discovery on its STS-119 mission. Wakata transitioned from Expedition 18 to Expedition 19 after Padalka and Barratt took over station operations. After their arrival, Padalka and Barratt conducted more than a week of handover activities with Fincke, Lonchakov and Wakata familiarizing themselves with station systems and procedures.
The Expedition 19 crew worked with experiments across a wide variety of fields, including human life sciences, physical sciences and Earth observation, and conduct technology demonstrations. As with prior Expeditions, many experiments are designed to gather information about the effects of long-duration space flight on the human body, which will help with planning future exploration missions to the moon and Mars. The crew also will conduct experiments in tandem with various science teams and classrooms on the ground, including the EarthKAM project. EarthKAM allows middle school students to program a camera on board the station to take requested photos of the planet below. The camera operates automatically, and the images are downlinked to the students via the Web.
During Expedition 19, the crew will prepare for the undocking of the Progress 32 cargo craft and the arrival and docking of the Progress 33 resupply vehicle. They will spend time performing checkout procedures of the Advanced Resistive Exercise Device, or ARED, which is one of the three exercise devices on board the station. The crew will continue to prepare the regenerative environmental equipment for the increase in crew size that will take place during this expedition. This activity will include ensuring the Water Reclamation System, or WRS, is ready for full use.
Expedition 19 will come to an end with the arrival of cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, a Russian Air Force lieutenant colonel, Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk, and European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne, who will launch from Baikonur Kazakhstan in Russia aboard the Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft. The Soyuz vehicle will dock with the Zarya module of the space station, inaugurating the long-awaited presence of a six-person crew on the station. It also will mark the moment when all five partner agencies are represented by crewmembers on the orbiting laboratory and will begin Expedition 20, still under the command of Padalka.