Koichi Wakata took command of the International Space Station on Sunday, thereby becoming the first Japanese astronaut to lead a space mission.
In a NASA live broadcast during the transfer of command, Wakata thanked the outgoing commander, the Russian astronaut Oleg Kotov for his leadership, as well as crew members Sergei Ryazan and Mike Hopkins, who will return to Earth on Monday.
"We will continue to closely monitor the safety of the station, as you taught us. Successful you return to Earth and wait for us in a few months," said Wakata. The Japanese Koichi Wakata, who has been in the ISS for the second time, is only the third cosmonaut who is not an American or a Russian who has headed a mission on the international space station. Earlier, Canadian Chris Hadfield and the representative of the European Space Agency Frank D'Vinni became the head.
Wakata will remain in command with Rick Mastrakkio and Mikhail Tyurin until returning to Earth in mid-May. Three new crew members will join them - Oleg Artemyev, Alexander Skvortsov and Steve Swanson at the end of this month.