Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke, along with flight engineers Yury Lonchakov and Greg Chamitoff, officially took charge of the International Space Station Wednesday. The Change of Command Ceremony took place just before 2 p.m. EDT with Expedition 17 handing over the controls and wrapping up its stay at the International Space Station.
Wednesday is the last full day in space for Expedition 17 crew members Sergei Volkov, commander, and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko. They are packing items and making final preparations in their Soyuz TMA-12 for the ride home.
Spaceflight participant Richard Garriott also is returning to Earth after hitching a ride to the station with Expedition 18. Garriott, Volkov and Kononenko are scheduled to land in the steppes of Kazakhstan Thursday around 11:36 p.m. EDT.
Chamitoff is staying aboard the orbiting laboratory until space shuttle Endeavour brings his replacement, Sandra Magnus, on the STS-126 mission in November. He and Fincke are practicing the photography techniques they will use when Endeavour performs the rendezvous pitch maneuver while approaching the station.
Provided by NASA
Explore further: NASA deep-space rocket, SLS, to launch in 2018