E15 Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineer Oleg Kotov arrived at the station Monday after a Saturday launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. With them on their Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft was Spaceflight Participant Charles Simonyi, a U.S. businessman flying under a contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency.
Expedition 14 Commander Michael Lopez-Alegria and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin are scheduled to return home in their Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft April 20. Simonyi will return with them after about 11 days on the orbiting laboratory.
Lopez-Alegria, who came to the station with Tyurin last September, continuously sets new U.S. single spaceflight duration records. Williams is likely to break Lopez-Alegria's record with her return tentatively planned for August after serving as an E15 crew member for the early part of that increment.
This week, in addition to handover, both crews got in their regular exercise sessions – especially important for Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin as their return to Earth approaches. Crews did required station maintenance and still managed to spend considerable time on science activities. Those activities began with time-critical transfer of several experiments from the newly arrived Soyuz to the station and station power.
Among experiments getting crew attention were Bioemulsion, a Russian effort to develop technology to produce microorganisms safely for bacterial, fermental and medical preparations. Tyurin worked with that experiment Tuesday.
On Wednesday Kotov set up the European Exhaled Nitric Oxide-2 experiment. It measures nitric oxide exhaled by spacewalkers before and after their excursions. The idea is to better understand the potential for decompression sickness.
Meanwhile, Tyurin worked with the Russian Pilot experiment. It is designed to measure during long-duration spaceflight changes in a crew member's ability to pilot a spacecraft.
On Thursday, Lopez-Alegria spent more than three hours resizing U.S. spacesuits for future users. The suits were the ones they used on an unprecedented series of three station spacewalks in a nine-day period beginning Jan. 31.
Throughout much of the week, beginning with the crew news conference on Tuesday, crew members took breaks to talk with news media representatives. U.S. organizations whose reporters interviewed them included ABC News, Space.com, CNN, and CBS.