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Sunita Williams takes command of ISS after crew returns to Earth

Moscow, Sep 18 (): Sunita Williams, an Indian-American astronaut took command of International Space Station (ISS) on Monday as three astronauts returned back to Earth to Kazakh steppe from the orbiting space lab.

The Soyuz capsule made a perfect landing with the Russian cosmonauts Sergei Revin and Gennady Padalka and the US cosmonaut Joe Acaba. NASA television showed the astronauts relaxing in chairs and drinking warm drinks while medical recovery teams checked up their pulses, chatting with them about the trip. Then, the crew signed their names on black Soyuz spacecraft in tribute of the journey.

The three spacemen have left behind another three crew members in ISS, where the team is led by the new commander Sunita Williams. She is a space veteran who has registered herself as a woman who has spent most number of days in orbit and most number of hours doing space walks.

After the return of the three crew members, now Sunita Williams is in charge of the remaining crew, comprising of Aki Hoshide of Japan and Yury Malenchenko of Russia.

The orbiting research centre is now spinning at about 220 miles (350 kilometres) above Earth with Sunita Williams, controlling the space station. She is the second woman to take charge of the research centre from the time when it was initially launched in 1998.

Sunita is the trained pilot of US Naval Academy and will be celebrating her 47th birthday on Wednesday in space. She had worked as diving officer in Iraq before joining with Roscosmos in Moscow in 1990s while helping them to prepare the first crew of ISS. She first went into space in 2006 and in her present trip, she will be returning to Earth in January with her accompanying crew mates.

The three-member team on board of ISS will be accompanied by another new team of members on October 17. The Russian space officers have now announced that there will be a delay in the next lift-up by nearly a week because of the replacement of a device of Soyuz on-board equipment.

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