If necessary, members of the ninth long-duration expedition are ready to stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS) for 12 consecutive months.
Every astronaut's life has three important events, that is, when he joins the astronaut squad, when he lifts off, and when ground control asks him to stay a bit longer in space, mission commander Gennady Padalka told RIA Novosti.
In his words, the crew is ready to work for 12 months, rather than six months, if necessary.
Russia's Federal Space Agency officially asked NASA last week to study the possibility of extending the duration of long-duration ISS expeditions from six months to one year. NASA hasn't issued its official response yet.
The ninth long-duration ISS expedition, due to lift off April 19, comprises Russian astronaut Gennady Padalka and U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke. ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Andre Kuipers will leave for the ISS together with them, spending 10 days in orbit. Kuipers will then return to Earth together with members of the eighth long-duration expedition, i.e. Alexander Kaleri and Michael Foale, who are now working aboard the ISS.