West Point graduate,Gulf War veteran and retired US Army Colonel Robert Shane Kimbrough,49,is set to launch to the International Space Station on 19 October 2016 at 4:05 a.m. EDT from Baikonur Cosmodrome,Kazakhstan.He will be on the 50th expedition of the ISS with Russian Cosmonauts Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko.When the Expedition 49 crew currently running the ISS returns to Earth in just over a week's time,COL Kimbrough will assume command.*
COL Kimbrough was selected for the astronaut corps in 2004 in the first class following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster,having served as an attack helicopter platoon leader;aviation liaison officer;and helicopter battalion operations officer in the first Gulf War,Operation Desert Storm in 1991.In 1994,he commanded an Apache helicopter company at Fort Bragg,North Carolina,earning a master's degree in Operations Research at Georgia Tech in 1998.
In 2004,the Army assigned him as a flight simulation engineer on the Shuttle Training Aircraft.He got his first flight assignment in 2008 to STS-126.Launched on shuttle Endeavour in 11-08 for a 16-day mission,he performed two EVAs for a total of about 13 hours to maintain and upgrade the ISS.His crew also expanded the living quarters to accommodate six crew members as of May 2009.COL Kimbrough then worked in the Robotics Branch of the Astronaut Office and as chief of the Vehicle Integration Office until selected for Expedition 49-50 in February 2015 on Soyuz MS-02.
The new Soyuz-MS has higher efficiency solar arrays;better propulsion system redundancy;new rendezvous hardware,control and autonomous navigation capabilities.It is planned that COL Kimbrough will perform two EVAs to install six Lithium-Ion batteries on the ISS that will replace 12 nickel-hydrogen ones in January 2017.