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Mar 30, 2017 10:03 AM EDT

NASA Selects Astronauts For Future Space Missions [VIDEO]

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NASA has announced the five astronauts assigned to upcoming mission on Wednesday. The five astronauts are Joe Acaba, Ricky Arnold, Nick Hague, Serena Aunon-Chancellor and Shannon Walker.

The chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA, Chris Cassidy said that there will be plenty of work to be done at the space station, and the research opportunities are almost limitless.

Veteran astronauts Acaba and Arnold will be the first to launch on nearly six-month expeditions aboard the International Space Station in September and March 2018. Their assignments were to boost space station science and research, NASA said.

Space Flight Now reported Acaba will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrom in Kazakhstan in September on the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft. He will ride along with Russian commander Alexander Misurkin and NASA flight engineer Mark Vande Hei. They will be part of Expedition 53 and 54 crews on the ISS and will return to Earth next February and Shannon Walker will train as dedicated backup for Acaba.

Astronaut Ricky Arnold will join Drew Feustel from NASA and a Russian cosmonaut on a Soyuz launch in March 2018 and will be a part of the station's Expedition 55 and 56 crews. Arnold previously flew in space as Acaba's crewmate on Discovery's STS-119 mission and spent nearly 13 days in space.

Russia has reduced the size of its crew complement on ISS until a new research lab is launched to the complex next year. This is to cut down costs, training and staffing requirements.

Rookie astronauts Nick Hague and Serena Auñón-Chancellor have also been assigned to space station missions. Hague will launch in September 2018 on Expeditions 57 and 58 with two Russian cosmonauts.

Auñón-Chancellor is set to launch in November 2018 with Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques and a Russian cosmonaut. They will join the Expedition 58 and 59 crews.

The additional crew members will greatly help the entire scientific community doing research on the station. This will allow capabilities of undertaking more complex research activities, which will prepare NASA for the journey to Mars said Julie Robinson, NASA's Chief Scientist for the International Space Station according to Indo Asian News Service.

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