Expedition 18 Takes Command on Space Station

Oct 22, 2008
Expedition 17 Commander Sergei Volkov (second from left) shakes hands with Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke after officially handing over the station’s controls. From left, the other station residents are Expedition 17 Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko, Expedition 18 flight engineers Greg Chamitoff and Yury Lonchakov and spaceflight participant Richard Garriott. Image credit: NASA TV

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.

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