May 12, 2014 – In a special ceremony on board the International Space Station on Monday, command was passed from Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency to NASA’s Steve Swanson.
“I had an opportunity to fly with [Steve] on space shuttle mission STS-119,” said Wakata. “He has a great sense of humor and is simply a fine person. Knowing that we will leave the space station in the best hands, formally, I will hand over the command to Steve.”
Preparations are underway for the Expedition 39 crew, consisting of Wakata and Flight Engineers Rick Mastracchio of NASA and Mikhail Tyurin of the Russian Federal Space Agency, to depart the space station and land in Kazakhstan. Expedition 40 formally will begin aboard the station when Expedition 39 undocks.
Swanson and his crewmates, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, will operate the station as a three-person crew for two weeks until the arrival of three new crew members. Reid Wiseman of NASA, Max Suraev of Roscosmos and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on May 28 (U.S. time).
In a NASA interview prior to his departure in March, Swanson talked about his role as commander of the space station. “I just think I will have to worry more often than beforehand about how everybody else is doing, what they are doing that day, and are there any issues going on with the environmental system?”
Swanson launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the ISS on March 25. He’s been to the ISS on two previous Space Shuttle trips (STS-117 and STS-119) and spent about two weeks in space on each of those missions.
On his current mission, Swanson will spend six months living and working on the International Space Station, where he is involved in daily maintenance and conducting science experiments.
When he is not in space, Swanson considers Colorado his home. Although he moved frequently as a child, he graduated from Steamboat Springs High School and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Colorado.
He went on to complete a Master of Applied Science in Computer Systems from Florida Atlantic University and a Doctorate in Computer Science from Texas A&M University.
To view a video of the change of command, visit: Expedition 39/40 Change of Command