DENVER - Steve Swanson, an astronaut from Colorado, is now in command of the International Space Station crew.
Swanson and two cosmonauts transitioned into Expedition 40 with the departure of three crewmates, including the commander of Expedition 39. The Soyuz carrying the Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA and Soyuz commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos touched down safely near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan Wednesday.
In addition to Swanson, the crew currently aboard the ISS consists of Flight Engineers Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos. That three-person crew will operate the station for about two weeks until the arrival of three new crewmates who are scheduled to launch aboard another Soyuz on May 28.
Wakata, the first Japanese commander of the station, passed command to Swanson during a ceremony Monday.
Swanson, who graduated from Steamboat Springs High School and earned his bachelor of science degree in engineering physics from the University of Colorado, visited the ISS twice before aboard Space Shuttle missions (STS-117 and STS-119). This six-month mission, however, is far longer than either of those two missions. The shuttle trips lasted no more than two weeks.