The International Space Station’s third resident crew officially took control of the complex at 2:15 p.m. CDT today, when confirmation was given by the new station commander that all transfer activities associated with the custom-made Soyuz capsule seat liners had been completed and leak checks on their Russian Sokol space suits was verified.
That marked the end of the Expedition Two crew’s stay on the station at 148 days since it took over for the first resident crew on March 18. By the time the Expedition Two crew lands aboard Discovery next week, Yury Usachev, Jim Voss and Susan Helms will have spent 163 days aboard the station and 167 days in space.
The official ceremonial handover of command of the ISS from Usachev to Culbertson will take place Aug. 20, shortly before Discovery undocks from the Station.
The systematic swap of the seat liners and space suits occurred in and around the installation of the Leonardo Multipurpose Pressurized Logistics Module onto the station. Leonardo is one of three cargo supply vessels designed to deliver food, clothing, experiments and other hardware to and from the station throughout its orbital life. It was attached to the station at 10:55 a.m. CDT and its hatch opened at 2:47 p.m. CDT.
Now that the official crew transfer is complete, the Expedition Three crew of Culbertson, Pilot Vladimir Dezhurov and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin will begin a comprehensive handover with their departing counterparts, receiving briefings on station systems, the current configuration of hardware and computers and procedures they will employ during their first days on board the outpost.
The crew will be awakened at 4:10 a.m. CDT Tuesday to continue the unloading of more than three tons of supplies and experiments from Leonardo. At 2 p.m. CDT Tuesday, the two station commanders, Culbertson and Usachev, will take part in an interview from space with television networks. The interview will air live on NASA TV.
The joined spacecraft are orbiting at an average altitude of about 244 statute miles, completing an orbit of the Earth every 90 minutes. The next status report will be issued about 6 a.m. Tuesday, or earlier, as events warrant.
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