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    NEW ISS CREWMEMBERS TO MAKE TWO SPACEWALKS

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    STAR CITY /MOSCOW REGION/, MARCH 31, 2004. (RIA NOVOSTI) -- In the flight programme of the ninth long-duration expedition to the International Space Station are two spacewalks, crew commander Gennadi Padalka of Russia told the pre-flight news conference held on Wednesday at the Cosmonaut Training Centre near Moscow. His crewmembers will be astronaut Michael Fincke of the United States and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency. The latter will stay in orbit for only ten days.

    During the first spacewalk, a reflector for the new European cargo ship ATV will be fixed on the ISS service module. In the second spacewalk, old panels on the ISS cargo unit will be replaced. Both the spacewalks are scheduled for July and August, Padalka said.

    The ninth expedition will carry out a large programme of research work, he added. Forty two experiments are planned for only its Russian part.

    The crew will also have to receive and offload three Russian cargo ships arriving to the ISS.

    Journalists asked the crewmen what they are going to take with them to the ISS station. The crew commander Gennadi Padalka said he would take along sunglasses, private photos, a Russian-English dictionary and letters for Alexander Kaleri of Russia and Michael Foale of the United States, who are now in orbit.

    The flight engineer of the ninth expedition Michael Fincke is going to take along a portable computer. You know how much Americans like small-size computers - you can see pictures in them, write something and listen to music, Fincke said.

    European astronaut Andre Kuipers said he would take with him music disks. He would listen to music records and look at the earth, he said. After ten days he will come back together with the eighth crew - Alexander Kaleri and Michael Foale.

    The Dutchman also said he has made friends with his crewmembers, who are "real professionals".

    The other members of the long-duration expedition also think high of each other. Crew commander Gennadi Padalka said Michael Fincke "is very reliable and a good joker", which is "very important" in the station. The American, in turn, said he treats his crew commander as the big brother. I have six brothers and sisters and the crew has become my new family, Fincke said. His wife is now in Moscow and he regrets she may not go to the Baikonur cosmodrome to see off her dear husband. Fincke's little son is also in Moscow now. I'm glad I can show him Russia and even teach him several Russian words, the American astronaut said.

    The ninth expedition will make for the ISS on April 19 from the Russian Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

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