Image: Williams and Lopez-Alegria
Energia
Expedition 14 astronauts Sunita Williams and Michael Lopez-Alegria check camera equipment during a training session at Russia's Star City cosmonaut complex. The two NASA astronauts will be joined on the six-month space station expedition by Russia's Mikhail Tyurin.
updated 5/2/2006 4:36:33 PM ET 2006-05-02T20:36:33

NASA officials announced the next crew for the international space station Tuesday: an astronaut making her first spaceflight, a NASA veteran and a cosmonaut making a return trip to the station.

Astronauts Sunita Williams and Michael Lopez-Alegria will join Russian Mikhail Tyurin for the six-month mission scheduled to start in September.

Lopez-Alegria, who previously has flown to space three times, will command Expedition 14 and serve as the science office.

Tyurin, who lived on the space station as a part of the Expedition 3 crew in 2001, will be the flight engineer and commander of the Soyuz vehicle, which will take him and Lopez-Alegria to the space station.

Williams, serving as flight engineer, will join the crew later after traveling to the space station aboard the space shuttle in her first spaceflight. Williams will be the third woman astronaut to serve on an expedition crew — following Susan Helms on Expedition 2 in 2001, and Peggy Whitson on Expedition 5 in 2002.

The space station's current occupants, Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov and U.S. science officer Jeff Williams, are orbiting about 240 miles (385 kilometers) above Earth. Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency is scheduled to go to the space station aboard space shuttle Discovery in July, returning the size of the station crew to three members for the first time in three years.

The crew was reduced to two members after NASA's shuttle fleet was grounded following the Columbia disaster.

MSNBC.com contributed to this report.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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