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Astronaut Sunita Williams takes over ISS command from Padalka

September 15, 2012, 10:39 UTC+3

Williams will be the second woman commander of an ISS crew

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MOSCOW, September 15 (Itar-Tass) —— The power change will take place aboard the International Space Station on the night to Sunday. A woman will be in command of a united crew for the second time in the station's history.

The ceremony to transfer power from Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka to NASA astronaut Sunita Williams will begin at 23:10 Moscow time on Saturday, a source at the Mission Control Centre based near Moscow told Itar-Tass.

Williams will be in command aboard the station until her return to Earth planned for mid-November. Together with Williams, Russian Yuri Malenchenko and Japanese Akihiko Hoshide will continue to work aboard the station till the arrival of the next crew.

Williams will be the second woman commander of an ISS crew. The first was Peggy Whitson (also a NASA astronaut), but she was in command of only two men (a Russian and an American). Sunita will be a commander of five cosmonauts and astronauts from Russia, the United States and Japan.

Current ISS Expedition-32 commander Padalka concludes his four-month work in orbit on September 17, when he is planned to return to Earth aboard the Soyuz-TMA-04M spacecraft together with Russian Sergei Revin and American Joseph Acaba.

Transfer of power aboard the station is a formal ceremony of signing corresponding documents by two commanders. It takes no longer than 20 minutes. The expedition number also changes. This time 32 is replaced with 33. The ISS crew rings the bell, which is located in the American segment, to mark the power transfer.

The cosmonauts will also have another ceremony. After the breakfast, Padalka and Malenchenko will sign the document on the taking over of the Russian segment.

For Padalka, Revin and Acaba, this Saturday is their concluding working day in orbit. They put their "luggage", equipment and cases with the results of biotechnological experiments, in the spacecraft, and Revin conducts a final sanitary inspection of the station. The Russians are also planned to have final training with the Chibis-M system (which forces blood to legs to adapt to the earth gravitation) and take special salt solutions to prevent organism dehydration when landing.

Soyuz TMA-04M is planned to undock from the ISS at 03:11 Moscow time on September 17. The landing is planned for 06:53 Moscow time.

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