Command ofthe InternationalSpace Station (ISS) changed hands between two astronaut crews Wednesdaywhile AnoushehAnsari, the outpost's paying visitor, made the most of her last fullday in space.
ISS Expedition14 commander MichaelLopez-Alegria took charge of the space station from his Expedition13 counterpart during a bell-ringing ceremony that has become traditionaboard the orbital laboratory.
"It's agreat honor to take command of the good ship Alpha," Lopez-Alegria said of theISS as he relieved Expedition 13 commander PavelVinogradov.
Lopez-Alegriaand Expedition 14 flight engineer Mikhail Tyurin arrivedat the ISS aboard their SoyuzTMA-9 spacecraft on Sept. 20 with Ansari - a U.S. entrepreneur and the world'sfirst female space tourist.
The Expedition14 astronauts are relieving Vinogradov and Expedition 13 flight engineer JeffreyWilliams, and join a third crewmember - European Space Agency astronaut ThomasReiter - already aboard the ISS. Vinogradov, Williams and Ansari are setto cast off from the ISS on Thursday and land on the Central Asian steppes ofKazakhstan at about 9:10 p.m. EDT (0110 Sept. 29 GMT).
"The bottomline is yes, I am ready to return to Earth," Williams, who is completing asix-month tour aboard the ISS, told the Houston Chronicle Tuesday.
During theweek-long ISS crew swap, Ansari has performed a series of biomedical experimentsfor the ESA and enjoyed her trip in space, which was brokered with Russia'sFederal Space Agency by the Virginia-based firm Space Adventures.
"It's timefor me to go savor the last few days onboard," Ansari wrote in her blog today, where she detailed thewonder of floating in weightlessness. "I truly enjoy weightlessness...you feellike a free spirit."
In her blog, Ansari has documented her initialdifficulties to adapting to her new weightless environment, adding that herheadache, back pains and nausea were later solved by an injection of motionsickness medication. She learned through trial and error how to navigate herway through the ISS without causing much of a ruckus.
"I flyaround hitting walls and dislodging things. The first few days I would pushagainst a wall too hard and end up flying too fast to the other wall, not beingable to stop and BANG! I would hit the other wall and bounce back toward whereI started from," Ansari wrote. "Recently, however, I was complimented on how professionallyI fly! It was very flattering."
Lopez-Alegriatold CNN Espanol this week that more than 10 million people have visitedAnsari's website to follow her spaceflight.
"She ishaving a lot of success with her mission," he said.
In additionto accepting command of the ISS today, Lopez-Alegria presented Williams - a U.S.Army colonel - with the Army Aviation Association of America's (Quad-A) Orderof St. Michael's Silver Award to recognize commitment to the nation's armedforces.
"This isn'tjust a change of command for the crew, but also for the ground teams,"Lopez-Alegria said, adding that new flight directors and other controllers aretaking their positions for Expedition 14. "They join the three of us in taking thegood ship Alpha into uncharted territory as we complete the International SpaceStation."
- IMAGE GALLERY: Launch Day for Expedition 14 Crew, Anousheh Ansari
- IMAGE GALLERY: Anousheh Ansari Prepares for Launch
- Anousheh Ansari: First Female Private Space 'Explorer' Visits ISS
- Complete Coverage: ISS Expedition 14