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Space Crew Announced

Since the 1930s, Russia has made great discoveries and reached historical milestones with their space program. Amongst the country's notable achievements are Sputnik 1 (the first satellite), Laika the dog that entered space on Sputnik 2, and putting the first human into space, Yuri Gagarin. The Russians also laid claim to the first space station, and just recently the 24th crew was announced who to travel to the International Space Station. The announcement was made in Moscow on Monday, 14 June 2010, and final preparations are currently underway for this magnificent adventure.

To be in the running for the flight, three astronauts were put through rigorous pre-flight tests to establish if they would be able to successfully execute the space mission. Of these astronauts, one is Russian and the other two are American. Shannon Walker and Douglas Wheelock will be accompanying squad leader, Yury Yurchihin, to the International Space Station. The trip is especially significant as it will be the last time that a shuttle will make the trip to the space station, and the astronauts are looking forward to joining the other three members of the team who are already located and working in the space laboratory. They will be preparing for a six month mission. After the final shuttle, The Endeavour, makes the last trip in November, the entire shuttle fleet is said to be retired. The shuttle fleets will be replaced by the Soyuz rocket, which is a Soviet designed craft, and even though there is some concern in regard to this replacement, the astronauts are still looking forward to their pending mission. Douglas Wheelock expressed his sadness about the retirement of the shuttle, saying: "It's actually bittersweet to see the shuttle go, but it's really an exciting time as well, because we are also going to be the first to really make full utilization of the space station as a working laboratory."

The TMA-19 Spacecraft was moved to the Baikonur Space Center, and took off on Sunday 16 June 2010. It might be the beginning of the end for the shuttle fleet, but it is the start of a new adventure for the astronauts and a new era for the Russian space program.


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