Tech Alum McArthur to Lead Space Station Mission

NASA and its international partners have named new crew members for upcoming missions to the International Space Station (ISS).

U.S. astronaut William S. McArthur Jr., who earned a master of science degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech in 1983, and Russian cosmonaut Valery I. Tokarev will serve on the International Space Station as the crew of Expedition 12. They will travel to the ISS on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft later this year for their six-month mission. McArthur is the Expedition 12 commander and Tokarev is the flight engineer.

Thomas Reiter, a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, will also carry out a long-duration mission on the Station. He will fly to the Station aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis on mission STS -121, planned for a September 2005 launch. Reiter will work on the Station as part of an agreement between the Russian Federal Space Agency and ESA.

Reiter's arrival on the Station marks the return to a three-person crew. Station crews were reduced to two members in May 2003, to conserve onboard resources until the Shuttle, with its considerable cargo capability, could again deliver supplies.

McArthur, Tokarev and Reiter are space flight veterans. McArthur and Tokarev trained as backup crew members for ISS Expeditions 8 and 10. McArthur has flown on three Space Shuttle flights: STS-58 in 1993; STS-74 in 1995; and STS-92 in 2000. He has logged more than 35 days in space, including more than 13 hours spacewalking. On his last two missions he visited the Russian Space Station Mir and the ISS.

McArthur graduated from West Point in June 1973 and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Following a tour with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, he entered the U.S. Army Aviation School in 1975. He was the top graduate of his flight class and was designated an Army aviator in June 1976. He subsequently served as an aeroscout team leader and brigade aviation section commander with the 2nd Infantry Division in the Republic of Korea. In 1978 he was assigned to the 24th Combat Aviation Battalion in Savannah, Georgia, where he served as a company commander, platoon leader, and operations officer. After completing studies at Georgia Tech, he was assigned to the Department of Mechanics at West Point as an assistant professor. In June 1987, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and was designated an experimental test pilot. Other military schools completed include the Army Parachutist Course, the Jumpmaster Course, and the Command and General Staff Officers' Course.

STS-121 is the second scheduled test flight for the Shuttle since the Columbia accident on February 1, 2003, and the first to transport a crew for a long-duration Station mission since 2002. Atlantis will carry supplies and equipment to the ISS, and the crew will test upgraded Shuttle safety equipment and procedures.