April 4, 2009

Space station changes command

Russian authorities Saturday said cosmonaut Gennady Padalka was to take control of the International Space Station from NASA astronaut Michael Fincke.

Padalka, who trained Fincke on a 2004 mission to the station, praised his former pupil with leaving the space station in excellent shape for the station's Expedition 19, ITAR-Tass reported.

Fincke and Russian Yuri Lonchakov have been in orbit on the station since last October. They return to Earth April 8 with space tourist Charles Simonyi, who arrived aboard the space station last week with Padalka.