MOSCOW, June 29 (Itar-Tass) — Power transfer will take place aboard the International Space Station on the night to Saturday.
The ceremony to turn over the command from Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko to his fellow countryman Gennady Padalka will begin at 03:35 Moscow time on June 30. The latter will be in command of the station until his return to Earth, planned for late September.
Together with Padalka, Russian Sergei Revin and American Joseph Acaba will work aboard the station until the arrival of the next crew, a source at the Mission Control Centre based near Moscow told Itar-Tass.
Current ISS Crew 31 commander Kononenko is planned to end his more than six-month-long orbital mission on July 1, when aboard Soyuz TMA-03M he will return to Earth together with his two colleagues American Donald Pettit and Dutchman Andre Kuipers.
Power transfer aboard the station is a formal ceremony regulated by corresponding documents. It lasts no longer than 20 minutes, the MCC source said. The expedition number is also changed. This time, 31 will be replaced with 32. The crew rings the station bell, which is located in the American segment, to mark the command transfer.
Before the official documents are signed, the crew will hold another ceremony -- after the breakfast, Kononenko and Padalka will sign a document to turn over the Russian segment to the other crew.
Padalka, one of most experienced Russian cosmonauts, will become ISS commander for the third time. He headed Russian-American Crew Nine in 2004 and the first united crew of six people, Expedition 19, in 2009.
For Kononenko, Pettit and Kuipers, this Friday is a concluding working day in orbit. They put their "luggage" and biotechnological experiment containers into the spacecraft, and the Russian cosmonaut also conducts a sanitary inspection of the station. Kononenko will also have some more training in the Chibis-M system for better adaptation for the gravitation conditions and drink special salted water to prevent organism dehydration during the landing.
In connection with the planned night operations before the departure, the united crew's work and rest schedule is changed this Friday. After they get up at 10:00 Moscow time, they will work and at 18:00 Moscow time will have a rest for four hours. Then, they will continue to work until 05:30 on Saturday. During the day before the landing, the crew will rest until 21:00 Moscow time, and then they will be busy with the preparation of the Soyuz for landing.
The undocking of the spacecraft from the ISS is planned for 08:48 Moscow time, July 1. The landing is planned for 12:15 Moscow time.