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NASA, Space Station Partners Announce Crew Members for Missions in 2017


NASA and its International Space Station (ISS) associates have declared the team members for missions to the orbiting research laboratory in 2017. The selection includes first-time space flyers NASA cosmonauts Jack Fischer and Mark Vande Hei.
The Journey 51 and 52 crews will maintain significant research that advances NASA’s expedition to Mars while making discoveries that can help all of humanity. With suitable funding and technological progress on NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, astronauts Fischer and Vande Hei are expected to be at the base during the initial test flights of the SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Boeing CST-100, planned for 2017.
Chris Cassidy, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston said: “Spaceflight assignment is one of the highlights of my job, and this is made even more special when that person has not yet flown in space. I’m very excited for both Mark and Jack and very much look forward to watching them on the ISS.”

Expedition 51/52 crew member Mark Vande Hei during ISS Joint AL Hardware training with instructors Michael Dino, Eryn Beisner.

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Credit: NASA/Lauren Harnett

Both Fischer and Vande Hei are members of NASA’s 2009 Astronaut Class. Vande Hei will be the first to fly, when he and Roscosmos cosmonauts Nikolai Tikhonov and Alexander Misurkin, also a first-time flyer, launch in March 2017. The 3 will meet the station’s Expedition 51 team of NASA cosmonaut Peggy Whitson, cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
A colonel in the U.S. Army hails from Falls Church, Virginia. His Army service contains a tour in Iraq throughout the course of Operation Provide Comfort and, later, Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which he commanded an Army area support team. Vande Hei is a graduate of the Army’s Airborne School, Engineer Officer Advanced Course, Ranger School, and Command and General Staff College.
In July 2006 he joined NASA to operate as a Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) at the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Hei was nominated as an astronaut candidate 3 years later and, later completing his initial astronaut preparation in July 2011, went on to function as the Astronaut Office’s manager of operations in Russia.
Fischer’s mission will begin in May 2017, when he and his crewmates Fyodor Yurchikin of Roscosmos and Paolo Nespoli of European Space Agency will join Vande Hei, Tikhonov and Misurkin on the station for Expedition 52.
Fischer is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, hailing from Louisville, Colorado. Fischer performed two combat tours in Southwest Asia, flying the F-15E Strike Eagle throughout Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Southern Watch. He later became a test pilot, flying more than 50 distinctive types of aircraft, including all types of the F-22 Raptor and F-15. After 2 test missions, Fischer worked as an Air Force Fellow in Washington, with alternations serving under the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

Expedition 52 crew member Jack Fischer trains for a spacewalk.

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Credit: NASA/James Blair

He also served as a CAPCOM in mission control after ending his astronaut candidate training in July 2011. Additionally, Fischer performed technical roles supporting Soyuz and space station actions. In 1996 Fischer graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering, and earned a master’s degree in astronautics and aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge in 1998.
The team comprising Expedition 51 will be:
Peggy Whitson, NASA
Oleg Novitskiy, Roscosmos
Thomas Pesquet, ESA
Mark Vande Hei, NASA
Alexander Misurkin, Roscosmos
Nikolai Tikhonov, Roscosmos
The crew comprising Expedition 52 will be:
Mark Vande Hei, NASA
Alexander Misurkin, Roscosmos
Nikolai Tikhonov, Roscosmos
Jack Fischer, NASA
Paolo Nespoli, ESA
Fyodor Yurchikin, Roscosmos

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