Spaceflight Insider

Kelly takes command of International Space Station

Scott Kelly in a reflective moment during the preflight for Expedition 43. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

Scott Kelly in a reflective moment during the preflight for Expedition 43. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

On Sept. 5, 2015, Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka officially handed over command of the International Space Station to NASA astronaut Scott Kelly in preparation for the changeover from Expedition 44 to Expedition 45

During the change of command ceremony, Padalka expressed his regrets for having to leave, but he thanked his crewmates, including Kelly and Kornienko, who he has worked with since March 2015.

“We did a great job. Thank you guys for supporting each other and for working together,” Padalka said.

Expedition 43 Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), top, NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly, center, and Russian Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos wave farewell as they board the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft ahead of their launch to the International Space Station, Friday, March 27, 2015 in Baikonor, Kazakhstan. As the one-year crew, Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth on Soyuz TMA-18M in March 2016. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

Prior to their launch, Expedition 43 Russian Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), top, NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly, center, and Russian Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka of Roscosmos wave farewell as they board the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft ahead of their launch to the International Space Station, Friday, March 27, 2015, in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. As the one-year crew, Kelly and Kornienko will return to Earth on Soyuz TMA-18M in March 2016. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

Padalka mentioned that the crew had to work through hard times during the last six months citing the accidents with the Progress and Dragon cargo ships.

“We did our best to try to give space station a great operational condition for the next crew,” Padalka said, thanking ground controllers around the world for their assistance.

“The change in command ceremony in the United States Navy, which I am from, is a time-honored tradition that shows when one commander relinquishes the command and the other person assumes the command of a vessel, generally like the Space Station or facility just so it’s clear to everyone who the person with the ultimate responsibility on board is,” Kelly said.

Kelly also echoed the thanks that Gennady had for the ground controllers, and he added engineers and technicians to the list of people that make the station run on a day-to-day basis from the ground.

“We’re just kind of the figurehead up here and it takes a team to make this space station run,” Kelly said.

Kelly said that, while he was commander of the station once before, he was fortunate to have seen the wisdom and experience in a leader like Padalka to learn how he could do a better job the second time around as commander.

“It’s really been a privilege and an honor to serve as one of his crew members,” Kelly said. “He’s done a fantastic job.”

Kelly said he will miss Padalka when he leaves at the end of next week. After words of congratulations, Kelly officially relieved Padalka of command.

“I am ready to relinquish command to Scott Kelly,” Padalka said.

“I assume command of the International Space Station,” Kelly replied. “A great ship and one that not only serves us very well but serves our various countries. In case, you know, we have people from the United States, Russia, Japan, Denmark, [and] Kazakhstan.”

When Padalka leaves, he will have spent more time in space than any other person in history – about 878 days in space spread out over the course of five missions – a record that will likely stand for come time to come.

Kelly, who is on a year-long mission with Mikhail Kornienko, will have spent around 526 days in space over four missions when he lands in March 2016 – the longest time spent in space for an American to date. When all is said and done, Kelly should be number 15 in terms of time spent in orbit, behind Russian Oleg Kotov.

Expedition 45 will officially begin when Soyuz TMA-16M, carrying Padalka, Andreas Mogensen, and Aidyn Aimbetov, undock from the station on Sept. 11, 2015.

International Space Station ISS Cupola segment in orbit above Earth NASA image posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Kelly, along with Kornienko, is currently in the midst of a one-year stay on board the International Space Station. Photo Credit: Scott Kelly / NASA

Expedition 45 will extend from Sept. 11 through Dec. 22, 2015. In that time, the crew of six will see a number of critical events, in addition to the hundreds of hours of science scheduled to be conducted.

On Sept. 27, Japan’s HTV-5 cargo ship will be unberthed and released for re-entry after spending just over a month attached to the orbiting lab.

Not long after that, on Oct. 1, 2015, Progress M-29M will be launched, docking with the Zvezda module’s aft port a couple of days later. M-29M is scheduled to undock on Dec. 9.

Also in October, Pressurized Mating Adaptor 3, which has been inactive since 2001, will be moved from the port side of the Tranquility node to the zenith side of the Harmony node to prepare for future commercial crew vehicles. Kelly and Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren will go on an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) soon after so as to connect power cables, and to complete other tasks.

Progress M-28M, which has been at the station since July 5, is scheduled to undock from the Pirs module on Nov. 19 to make way for a new version of the venerable cargo ship – Progress MS-1.

MS-1, which will launch on Nov. 1 and dock two days later, will bring a number of improvements that will be tested before they are implemented on the Soyuz. That new Soyuz, Soyuz MS-1, will launch in March of 2016.

Among the improvements to the cargo vessel are a new flight computer that is more capable and 10 times lighter and smaller than the current version. The analogue telemetry system will be replaced by a digital telemetry system as well as more efficient solar panels will be installed.

Additionally modified docking and attitude control engines will add increased fault tolerances during docking and deorbit maneuvers.

On Nov. 2, a huge milestone in the International Space Station program will be reached: 15 years of continuous occupation by a crew in space – the longest in human history. The first crew, Expedition 1, docked with the orbiting lab back on Nov. 2, 2000.

On Dec. 3, an enhanced Cygnus cargo ship, Orb-4, will be launched from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 41 on an Atlas V 401 rocket. This launch will mark Orbital ATK’s return flight in terms of station resupply services, and it follows the Oct. 28, 2014, loss of the Antares launch vehicle and its Cygnus spacecraft payload. The next flight of the Cygnus CRS Orb-4 will be captured, two days after the booster has lifted off, by the station’s robotic arm and berthed to the nadir port of Unity.

The crew size of the ISS will once again increase to nine on Dec. 15, 2015, in a direct crew handover when Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Timothy Kopra, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Timothy Peake launch in their Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft.

Expedition 45 crew members Oleg Kononenko, Kimiya Yui, and Kjell Lindgren will have to first move their Soyuz TMA-17M vehicle from the nadir port of the Rassvet module to the aft port of Zvezda module on Dec. 11.

Expedition 45 will officially end when Kononenko, Yui, and Lindgren undock from the ISS in Soyuz TMA-18 on Dec. 22, 2015.

Video courtesy of NASA

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Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a blog about the International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity. He met with members of the SpaceFlight Insider team during the flight of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with the MUOS-4 satellite. Richardson joined our team shortly thereafter.

His passion for space ignited when he watched Space Shuttle Discovery launch into space Oct. 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he soon realized his true calling was communicating to others about space. Since joining SpaceFlight Insider in 2015, Richardson has worked to increase the quality of our content, eventually becoming our managing editor. @TheSpaceWriter

Reader Comments

At the present time 99.5% of the worlds population is educated in the Metric System of measurement. If you go into science you need to learn the Metric system in high school.
All manufacturing in the United States uses the Metric System. The ISS was built using the Metric System.
Why doesn’t NASA give distances in kilometers instead of miles. NASA needs to talk the language of science to our country.

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