Fourastronauts working to swap control of the International Space Station (ISS)between their two crews said Thursday that the process is going smoothly as they hit themidpoint of their work together.
Afternearly six months of spaceflight, Expedition11 commander Sergei Krikalev and flight engineer John Phillips are now intheir fourth day of handover operations with the station's new crew - Expedition12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev.
"There areno serious problems," Tokarev told SPACE.com from orbit via a communications link, adding that the spacestation is in good condition. "Sergei and John worked really hard and did a lotof work to maintain the station."
Tokarev andMcArthur arrivedat the ISS on Oct. 3 with U.S. space tourist GregoryOlsen, and will spend about eight days preparing to take the station's reins.Krikalev and Phillips will return to Earth with Olsen on Oct. 10, though itwill be early Oct. 11 local time in Russia when their Soyuz TMA-6 space capsuletouches down.
Olsen ispaying $20 million for his 10-day spaceflight, during which he will spend aweek aboard the ISS. He is the third fare-paying visitor to the space stationand is conducting three medical experimentsfor the European Space Agency, as well as Earth observation.
"It's goingto be a facility that's going to serve science for many years to come,"Phillips said of the space station.
As part oftheir joint activities, Phillips and McArthur worked earlier today to prepare partof the station's new Human Research Facility rack - which arrivedaboard the space shuttle Discovery in July - for full science operations.
"I got toroll up my sleeves just a little bit today," McArthur said of that work, addingthat he looks forward to using the new research station.
Every bitof new science hardware and space station construction is vital to human explorationof space, Krikalev said.
"Our [space]station construction is the biggest technical experiment...where we learn how tobuild the space station and how to create something different," Krikalev said. "Ithink this experiment is still going, and going well."
- Gregory Olsen: Third Space Tourist Aims for Orbit
- Image Gallery: Space Tourist Greg Olsen prepares for launch
- Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 11
- Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 12
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Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.