Army Astronaut Col. Doug Wheelock will become the new commander of the International Space Station Sept. 22 during an in-space ceremony. Wheelock will be the first active-duty Army astronaut to command the ISS.
Wheelock launched on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, TMA-19, on June 15. He will serve six months as the commander of the International Space Station and its six-person international crew during ISS Expedition 25.
"This is a pivotal moment for NASA and of course the absolute apogee of my professional life," Wheelock said in a statement earlier this week.
After nearly six months aboard the ISS, Expedition 24 Soyuz commander and Russian Cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov will hand over command of the station to Wheelock before departing the orbital laboratory.
The change-of-command ceremony will be conducted at 5:05 p.m. EST. It will be broadcast live on NASA TV's public and media channels, as well as replayed at 10 a.m. Sept 23 and during the landing coverage (of Expedition 24) that evening. For NASA TV downlink, schedule, and streaming video information, visit http://www.nasa.gov/ntv.
Active-duty and retired Soldiers of NASA's Astronaut Detachment are among some 90 astronauts (which include members of the other services and civilians) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, who are today's space pioneers. While the Army has the smallest contingency of astronauts, the amount of time they have spent on the ISS is greater than that of many of the other services.
Recently, Col. T.J. Creamer spent six months aboard the ISS, returning in June 2010. Col. Jeff Williams, now retired, was the first active-duty Army officer to live aboard the ISS for months at a time, doing so from March through September 2006.
Of the roughly 15 Army astronauts who have served thus far, the majority have graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and most have been test pilots.
There are currently four active-duty Army astronauts and one Army astronaut candidate.