Change of Command. Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata, right, shakes hands with the new Expedition 40 Commander, Steve Swanson for the official turnover of command.
On Monday afternoon, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata acting as the Commander of the ISS turned over command of the station to NASA astronaut Steve Swanson. After a six-month stay in space aboard the station, Expedition 39 came to an end on Tuesday when the 38/39 crew boarded the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft and undocked from the station's Russian-built Rassvet module at 6:36 PM EDT. Two and a half hours later the Soyuz began its de-orbit burn to begin re-entry.
View from the Soyuz as it backs away from the ISS.
About 50 minutes later, under a large descent parachute, the Soyuz capsule touched down on the steppes of Kazakhstan. Recovery crews landed by helicopter and assisted the crewmembers in leaving the capsule and resting while being checked by physicians.
Up on the Station, Commander Swanson and his two crewmates will continue maintenance and experiment work while waiting for the next crewmembers to arrive, expected now on May 28th.