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Station Crew Holds Change of Command Ceremony

Published by Klaus Schmidt on Tue Mar 15, 2011 9:33 am via: NASA
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Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly ceremonially handed over command of the International Space Station to Flight Engineer Dmitry Kondratyev Monday. Kelly along with Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Kaleri will return to Earth aboard the Soyuz TMA-01M on Wednesday. The undocking of Kelly, Skripochka and Kaleri late Tuesday night will mark the official beginning of Expedition 27.

Flight Engineers Catherine Coleman and Paolo Nespoli will be remaining aboard the station with Kondratyev. Joining Expedition 27 will be Flight Engineers Ron Garan, Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev. Originally slated to lift off aboard the Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, on March 30, their launch has been postponed due to electrical issues with the spacecraft that are currently under investigation.

The hatches to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Kounotori2 H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV) were opened at 4:05 a.m. EDT Monday. The earthquake in Japan temporarily shut down activities at the Tsukuba Flight Control Center. Due to the evacuation of personnel, the planned hatch opening after Thursday’s relocation of the HTV was postponed.

The Expedition 26 crew members resumed packing the HTV Monday, but no further JAXA payload operations will be conducted in the Kibo laboratory until commanding capability and full ground systems are recovered. The HTV undocking date is still set for March 28. However that will require recovery of international communication cables between the Tsukuba Space Center and the Mission Control Center in Houston.

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