Spaceflight Insider

Expedition 53/54 crew provides details about their upcoming mission

Expedition 53/54: NASA astronauts Joe Acaba, Mark Vande Hei along with their Russian crewmate Alexander Misurkin during a pre launch press conference at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Photo Credit: Juan Diego Delagarza / SpaceFlight Insider

Expedition 53/54 crew: NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin, and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei detailed their upcoming mission during a pre-launch press conference held at NASA’s Johnson Space Center on May 10. Photo Credit: Juan Diego Delagarza / SpaceFlight Insider

HOUSTON, Texas — NASA astronauts Joe Acaba, Mark Vande Hei, along with their Russian crewmate Alexander Misurkin, detailed their future flight to members of the press on Wednesday, May 10. The trio of Expedition 53/54 crew members discussed the logistics and science that will be required during their flight to the International Space Station.

Mission logo for Expedition 53 and 54 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Photo Credit: Juan Diego Delagarza / SpaceFlight Insider

Mission logo for Expedition 53 and 54 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Photo Credit: Juan Diego Delagarza / SpaceFlight Insider

Acaba and Misurkin have both flown in space before. For Acaba, it was as a member of the crew of STS-119, which flew on Space Shuttle Discovery in March 2009 and again on Soyuz TMA-04M in May 2012. Misurkin served as Flight Engineer Two on the Soyuz TMA-08M mission in 2013.

At present, the three are slated to launch on September 13, 2017, aboard their Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft. Once at the ISS, they will join the Expedition 53 crew and are scheduled to return to Earth in March of next year (2018).

If everything goes as NASA and its international partners have planned, the crew will participate in an estimated 250 research and science experiments as well as technology demonstration efforts that, according to a NASA release, cannot be duplicated on Earth.

NASA has provided the following backgrounds for Acaba and Vande Hei:

Acaba was selected as an astronaut in 2004 and flew aboard space shuttle Discovery on the STS-119 mission to deliver the final pair of power-generating solar array wings and a truss element to the space station in 2009. He returned to the station for a longer stay in 2012, as part of the station’s Expedition 31 and 32 crews. He has logged a total of 138 days in space during two missions.

Born in Inglewood, California, Acaba grew up in Anaheim, California, He earned a bachelor’s degree in geology at University of California in Santa Barbara, one master’s degree in geology from the University of Arizona, and one in education, curriculum, and instruction from Texas Tech University. Before coming to NASA, he spent time in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and the Peace Corps, worked as a hydrogeologist and taught high school and middle school.

Vande Hei was selected in 2009 as a member of the 20th NASA astronaut class and completed astronaut training in 2011. Prior to becoming an astronaut, the Virginia native earned a bachelor‘s degree in physics from Saint John’s University and a master of science in applied physics from Stanford University. He was commissioned in the U.S. Army through the ROTC program and served as a combat engineer. In 1999, he became an assistant professor of physics at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point. In 2006, Vande Hei served as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) in Mission Control, Houston, for Expeditions 15 through 20 and space shuttle missions STS-122, 123, 124, 126 and 127.

Alexander Alexanderovich Misurkin was born on September 23, 1977, and is currently major in the Russian Air Force, he was selected to be a cosmonaut in 2006. He flew aboard Soyuz TMA-08M on 28 March 2013 as his first space mission. This was the first manned flight to use the fast rendezvous approach to the space station, reaching the orbiting outpost in less than 6 hours (previous flights had taken up to two days to reach the ISS).

“[T]he primary objective for us is doing lots of science, both to help further NASA’s exploration goals and to serve the needs of the country now, to help people on the ground as a national laboratory. We’re going to have several visiting vehicles […] we’ll have Cygnus vehicles and Dragon vehicles during that time. There’s possibility of an EVA, but really because we’re going to be up there so long, we’re just ready for whatever, the planners give us,” Vande Hei said.

Acaba was asked about the U.S. Space Agency’s ability to fulfill its obligations to the international partners involved on the ISS under the present budget.

“What I know from the budget, it satisfies NASA’s needs in the short term, and in terms of keeping the Space Station thru 2024, we have that budget in place, so were looking pretty good right now,” Acaba told SpaceFlight Insider.

The trio are preparing for a five month stay at the International Space Station. Photo Credit: Juan Diego Delagarza / SpaceFlight Insider

The trio are preparing for a five-month stay at the International Space Station. Photo Credit: Juan Diego Delagarza / SpaceFlight Insider



SpaceFlight Insider is a space journal working to break the pattern of bias prevalent among other media outlets. Working off a budget acquired through sponsors and advertisers, SpaceFlight Insider has rapidly become one of the premier space news outlets currently in operation. SFI works almost exclusively with the assistance of volunteers.

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