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Station Gets New Commander, Crew Set for Thursday Departure
Expedition 34/35 change of command ceremony

Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford hands command of the International Space Station over to Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield during a change of command ceremony on Wednesday. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford handed command of the International Space Station over to Flight Engineer Chris Hadfield during a change of command ceremony on Wednesday. Hadfield, a veteran of the Canadian Space Agency, is the first Canadian commander of the station. Expedition 35 will officially begin with the undocking of the Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft on Thursday.

› Watch the change of command ceremony

Ford and Flight Engineers Evgeny Tarelkin and Oleg Novitskiy continued preparations for their journey back to Earth, stowing items and making final equipment checks. The departing trio is scheduled to undock aboard their Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft from the station’s Poisk Mini-Research Module 2 at about 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan northeast of the remote town of Arkalyk about 3 ½ hours later.

NASA TV undocking coverage will begin Thursday at 4:45 p.m. with a crew farewell ceremony. Hatch closure between the Soyuz and station is set for 5:15 p.m.

› Watch NASA TV
› View schedule for NASA TV's Soyuz landing coverage

Hadfield, Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko will remain aboard the orbiting complex as a three-person crew until the March 28 launch and docking of three new flight engineers, Chris Cassidy, Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin.

› Read more about Expedition 35

Kevin Ford

Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford works with the bowling-ball-sized free-flying satellites known as Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites, or SPHERES, during the ground-commanded SPHERES VERTIGO experiment on Tuesday. Credit: NASA TV

Ford spent his final full day on the station continuing the transfer of cargo into the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft which arrived at the orbiting outpost on March 3. Dragon delivered around 1,200 pounds of science, hardware and crew supplies and is being reloaded with more than 2,600 pounds of experiment samples and equipment for return to Earth.

› Read about research payloads aboard Dragon
› View Dragon cargo manifest

Marshburn worked with the Capillary Flow Experiment-2, which investigates how fluids flow across surfaces in a weightless environment. Results from this experiment will improve computer models used to design fluid transfer systems and fuel tanks on future spacecraft.

› Read more about Capillary Flow Experiment-2

Hadfield loaded updated software into the computers that govern the functions of the Window Observation Research Facility in the Destiny Laboratory and transferred cargo into the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft.

Tarelkin and Novitskiy performed some cardiovascular conditioning training using a Russian lower body negative pressure suit that uses suction to simulate gravity. This conditioning helps to prepare the cosmonauts for return to Earth, allowing them to test their orthostatic tolerance after spending months in the microgravity environment aboard the station.

Tarelkin, Novitskiy and Romanenko performed various science experiments, inspections and maintenance duties in the Russian segment of the station, tagging-up with flight control teams in Russia as needed.

Meanwhile at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, Cassidy, Vinogradov and Misurkin and their backups continued a week of rest and administrative work in advance of their departure on Saturday for their launch site at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.