MOSCOW, December 19. /TASS/. Astronaut of the European Space Agency (ESA) Alexander Gerst has transferred the command of the International Space Station (ISS) to Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos said on its VKontakte social network page on Wednesday.
"Astronaut Alexander Gerst has transferred the powers of the station’s control and the symbolic key to commander of the ISS-58 expedition Oleg Kononenko," the statement says.
As Roscosmos said, "the crew always marks the change of ‘power’ on the station by ringing the bell - this is an old maritime tradition."
Currently, cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev is preparing together with astronauts Alexander Gerst and Serena Aunon-Chancellor to return aboard the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft to Earth: they are packing the cargoes, carrying out onboard training sessions and checking the spaceship’s major systems.
The spacecraft is scheduled to undock from the ISS at 04:40 Moscow time on December 20. The descent capsule is set to land in the steppe of Kazakhstan at 08:04 Moscow time.