The Expedition 18 Crew
The Expedition 18 crew completed its mission in April 2009. The commander of the crew was astronaut Michael Fincke. The flight engineer for this mission was Yury Lonchakov. He is from Russia. The men flew to the space station in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. They launched on Oct. 12, 2008.
Astronaut Greg Chamitoff was already on the space station. He had flown to the station in May 2008 on the STS-124 space shuttle mission.
On Nov. 14, 2008, astronaut Sandra Magnus flew to the station on space shuttle mission STS-126. She took Chamitoff's place as a flight engineer. Chamitoff flew back to Earth with the STS-126 crew on the space shuttle Endeavour.
Expedition 18 was Sandy Magnus' second trip to the space station. She visited the station in 2002 as part of the STS-112 space shuttle mission. During that trip, she only stayed on the station for a few days. This time, she stayed on the station for almost 4½ months.
On March 15, 2009, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata flew to the station on space shuttle mission STS-119. He took Magnus' place as a flight engineer. She flew back to Earth with the STS-119 crew on space shuttle Discovery.
Koichi Wakata is the first International Space Station crew member from the Japanese space agency. After a few weeks on the station, Wakata became part of the Expedition 19 crew. He is staying on the space station until late spring 2009, when he returns to Earth with space shuttle mission STS-127.
Before the mission, the Expedition 18 crew designed a mission patch. The Roman numerals XVIII stand for the number 18. Each letter stands for something, as well. The "X" stands for exploration. The "V" stands for the five space agencies in the International Space Station program. The "III" stands for the hope that the station will go from a three-person crew to a crew of six. The moon, sun and stars stand for the work the space station team does that will help humans go to the moon, Mars and beyond.
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