As America braces itself for another seven months of bickering over which suited flesh puppet most deserves to lead them for the next four years, 400km up, a much more civilised transfer of power is taking place today.
Commander Scott Kelly, who returns to Earth tomorrow having broken the American records for longest number of days in space (520) and longest number of consecutive days in space (340), will soon relinquish command of the stale tin can he’s been lording over these last six months. In a ceremony that begins at 7:10am AEDT (3:10 EST), Kelly will hand the reigns to American astronaut Tim Kopra. Kopra, along with Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and British astronaut Tim Peake, arrived at the International Space Station in December.
The commander is the highest authority on the ISS, responsible for directing the activities of crew members, providing regular updates to the flight director, maintaining the peace and preventing a space mutiny. Kelly has been commander for his last two stints in space, expeditions 45 and 46.
Relieved of his duties, Kelly is preparing to plummet through Earth’s atmosphere in a Soyuz spacecraft tomorrow. He’ll touch down at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday night, and return to Mission Control in Houston on Wednesday. Kelly will find his homeworld in an almost unrecognisable state of disarray, littered with the wreckage of exploded hoverboards that, confusingly, never hovered (it’s complicated), and filled with the rabid supporters of a tawny real estate mogul who promises to Make America Great again with a sort of Westerosian Wall minus the ice zombies.
NASA’s live-streaming the change of command ceremony today beginning at 7:10am, and you can tune in right here:
Top image: Commander Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko marked their 300th consecutive day in space on 21 January 2016, via NASA