This will be Williams’ third long-duration stay on the space station. Joining him for Expedition 47 and 48 will be cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency). Williams will be the commander of Expedition 48.
Immediately after the news conference, all three crew members will be available for individual media interviews in person or by phone. To request credentials to attend, or to reserve an interview opportunity, U.S. media must contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111 by 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5.
Reporters who wish to participate in the news conference by telephone must contact the newsroom at least 10 minutes prior to its start. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using the hashtag #askNASA.
The trio will launch to the space station aboard a Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft March 18, 2016, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to join Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, astronaut Timothy Peake of ESA (European Space Agency), and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos.
During their six-month mission, the expedition crew members will facilitate approximately 250 research investigations and technology demonstrations not possible on Earth to advance scientific knowledge of Earth, space, physical, and biological sciences and benefit those on Earth. Science conducted also will enable future long-duration human and robotic exploration into deep space and on the agency’s journey to Mars.
The crew members are expected to be at the station for arrivals of American cargo spacecraft the SpaceX Dragon and Orbital ATK Cygnus. Williams can expect to enter the deployed Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), a demonstration of expandable habitat technology that will be attached to the station for two years. During his time in space, the first International Docking Adapter to enable the arrival of future U.S. commercial crew spacecraft will be installed.
This mission will be Williams’ fourth spaceflight and third long-duration stay on the orbiting laboratory — a first for an American – and will be his first return to the station since its completion in 2011. Williams served as the flight engineer and lead spacewalker for the space shuttle Atlantis STS-101 mission in 2000. He was a flight engineer for Expedition 13 in 2006, when the station only had two modules and three crew members. In 2009 and 2010, he served as a flight engineer on Expedition 21 and commanded Expedition 22, when the Tranquility module and cupola were added to the station. During that mission, he also conducted the first live interaction with the agency’s social media fans and followers.
During his three flights, Williams spent 19 hours conducting three spacewalks and logged 362 days in space. By the completion of this 172-day mission, Williams will become the American with the most cumulative days in space, 534 overall, surpassing Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly, who is about three quarters of the way through a one-year mission that will culminate in 520 total days in space.
Born in Superior, Wisconsin, Williams considers Winter, Wisconsin, to be his hometown. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Science and Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy (USMA) in 1980, a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering and the degree of Aeronautical Engineer from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, both in 1987, a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College in 1996, and an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Johnson and Wales University in 2007.