International Cast Crowds Space Station

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2009 9:30 AM CDT
Astronauts Mark Polansky and Doug Hurley, with Canadian Julie Payette and Japan's Koichi Wakata, assemble in the Kibo Experiment Module of the space station, July 23, 2009.   (AP Photo/NASA)
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(Newser) – The International Space Station is more international than it's ever been before. With a full 13 astronauts aboard—six regular crew members and seven from the visiting Endeavor shuttle—the station has its biggest human payload ever, including representatives from all five of the top station partners. “It’s really fascinating to be here,” said one astronaut. “You hear different languages. You hear different music. It’s like going around the world in a spacecraft that’s already going around.”

The Endeavour is on the homestretch of its maintenance run, set to return on Friday. The shuttle delivered a new crew member, some spare parts, and a new experiment porch from Japan. The visitors have also smoothly repaired a few problems, including a broken toilet early in the mission and a broken carbon dioxide scrubber on Saturday.