Thomas Reiter joins Shuttle descent crew
Early this morning, the installation of a new seat liner in the Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft marked the end of ESA astronaut Thomas Reiter's period as a member of the Space Station's Expedition crew.
Shortly after the arrival of the Shuttle crew at the International Space Station last night, a seat liner specially designed for Sunni Williams was placed in the Soyuz capsule, marking the end of Reiter's 158-day stint as an Expedition crew member.
Thomas Reiter arrived at the Station with Space Shuttle mission STS-121 on 6 July. He became ESA's first ISS Expedition crew member when he joined the Expedition 13 crew of Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer Jeff Williams as Flight Engineer 2. His arrival marked the return to a three-member ISS Expedition crew – the first since mid-2003.
In September the Soyuz TMA-9 spacecraft arrived at the Space Station with two new Expedition crew members – Michael Lopez-Alegria and Mikhail Tyurin. Soon after their arrival, Reiter joined Lopez-Alegria and Tyurin as a member of the Expedition 14 crew.
Expedition 14 took over command of the Space Station on 27 September shortly before the departing Expedition 13 crew descended back to Earth in the Soyuz TMA-8.
Thomas Reiter will himself begin his return journey to Earth when Space Shuttle Discovery undocks from the ISS on 18 December. Discovery is scheduled to land at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, in Florida, at 21:36 CET (20:36 UT) on 21 December.