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Our 35th Year: Steve Swanson

06/06/2014 14:08 ● Published by Christina Freeman

Photo credit: NASA

Gallery: Steve Swanson on the International Space Station [23 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Deborah Olsen

NASA’s low-Earth orbiting Space Shuttle program was edging toward mothballs when Steamboat Magazine profiled astronaut Steve Swanson in 2010. With two shuttle missions under his belt, the Sailor alum was contemplating the end of an era.

He has since been rocketed into the next chapter of space exploration – literally. He assumed command of the International Space Station in late May, having arrived in March aboard a Russian Soyuz rocket on March 27. He will be at the station for a total of six months; he is scheduled to return to Earth in late September.

The space station crew members will conduct hundreds of scientific investigations and technology demonstrations during their six-month sojourn on the orbiting laboratory. These include Earth remote sensing, an assessment of human behavior and performance, and studies of bone and muscle physiology.

Swanson says he often tries to find his home state of Colorado when the space station passes over North America, but in the time it takes him to focus on the Rocky Mountains, the craft has already long since passed them by.

You could say that, while we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act on Earth, Swanson is exploring a different kind of wilderness in space.

Photo Gallery:

#1: In the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 39/40 Flight Engineer Steve Swanson of NASA poses for a picture in the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft during a fit check dress rehearsal exercise March 14 that is part of the final training for the crew. Swanson, Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station March 26 (Kazakh time) for the start of a six-month mission. Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

#2: By the rationale of some observers, this image of Expedition 39 Flight Engineer Steve Swanson could be titled "Return to the Old Stomping Grounds, Five Years Hence," except for the fact that it is difficult to stomp in a weightless environment and the fact that the Cupola was not part of the orbital outpost in March of 2009, the last time Swanson visited it. The NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts arrived at the station on March 27, 2014, and this image of a jubilant Swanson was one of the first showing members of the second aggregate of the Expedition 39 crew.

#3: At the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia and with the visage of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to fly in space, looking down on them, Expedition 39/40 Flight Engineer Steve Swanson of NASA (left), Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos (center) and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos field questions from reporters March 5 prior to qualification exams. They are preparing for their launch to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Star City, Russia March 26, Kazakh time, on the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft for a six-month mission. Photo credit: NASA

#4: Inside the Cupola on the International Space Station, Expedition 39 Flight Engineer Steve Swanson of NASA points through a window toward the main topic of the day during activities of the approach, rendezvous and grapple of the SpaceX Dragon on April 20, 2014.

 #5: NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander, participates in an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit fit check in the Space Station Airlock Test Article (SSATA) of the Crew Systems Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center. NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei assists Swanson. Photo credit: NASA

#6: With a blue and white portion of Earth below him, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, Expedition 39 flight engineer, is pictured during a spacewalk to replace a failed backup computer relay box in the S0 truss of the International Space Station on April 22, 2014. He was accompanied on the spacewalk by fellow Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA.

#7: This is one of an extensive series of still photos documenting the arrival and ultimate capture and berthing of the SpaceX Dragon at the International Space Station, as photographed by the Expedition 39 crew members onboard the orbital outpost. The spacecraft was captured by the space station and successfully berthed, following the April 20 arrival.

#8: NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander, participates in an Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) spacesuit fit check in the Space Station Airlock Test Article (SSATA) of the Crew Systems Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center. Photo credit: NASA

#9: In the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson (left), Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander, Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov (center) of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos pose for pictures in front of the first stage engines of their Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft March 21. Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev are wrapping up training for their launch to the International Space Station March 26, Kazakh time, for a six-month mission on the orbital laboratory. Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

#10: The Soyuz rocket and Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft are assembled at Building 112 on the Baikonur Cosmodrome March 22, 2014 in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Launch of the Soyuz is scheduled for March 26, Kazakh time, and will send Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Steven Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos on a six month mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

#11: In the background, the gantry arms begin to close around the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft to secure the rocket at the launch pad on March 23, 2014, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Launch of the Soyuz rocket is scheduled for March 26, Kazakh time, and will send Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency, (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Steven Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

#12: In the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 39/40 Flight Engineer Steve Swanson of NASA enters his Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft during a fit check dress rehearsal exercise March 14 that is part of final training for the crew. Swanson, Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station March 26 (Kazakh time) for the start of a six-month mission. Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

#13:  In the Integration Facility at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Expedition 39/40 Flight Engineer Steve Swanson of NASA undergoes a pressure check for his Russian Sokol launch and entry suit during a fit check dress rehearsal March 14 that is part of crew training. Swanson, Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station March 26 (Kazakh time) for the start of a six-month mission. Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

#14: A view from the balcony of the Mission Control Center in Korolev, Russia shows a screen with live television of the Expedition 39 crew members gathered together on the International Space Station a few hours after the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft docked March 28, 2014, Moscow time. Pictured are Expedition 39 crew members -- Flight Engineer Steve Swanson of NASA (left), Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA, back left) Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos (front center), Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA (back center), Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos (back right) and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos (front right). The arrival of Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev to the International Space Station comes two days after they launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

#15: One of the Expedition 39 crew members aboard the International Space Station photographed this image while the outpost was over northeastern Kazakhstan. The crew member aimed the camera due north or toward Russia, capturing the Aurora Borealis, which appears above the blue atmosphere.

#16: As photographed by one of the Expedition 39 crew members aboard the International Space Station, the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft heads toward Earth with the Expedition 38 crew aboard. Onboard the Soyuz were NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins and cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy. The trio had served 166 days in Earth orbit as members of the Expedition 37 and 38 crews.

#17: As photographed by one of the Expedition 39 crew members aboard the International Space Station, the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft heads toward Earth with the Expedition 38 crew aboard. Onboard the Soyuz were NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins and cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy. The trio had served 166 days in Earth orbit as members of the Expedition 37 and 38 crews.

#18: In the Baikonur Cosmodrome Museum in Kazakhstan, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson (foreground), Expedition 39 flight engineer and Expedition 40 commander, signs a wall mural March 21 to honor a tradition as he and his crewmates prepare for launch to the International Space Station. Looking on is Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). Swanson, Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos and Artemyev are wrapping up training for their launch to the station March 26, Kazakh time, on the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft for a six-month mission on the orbital laboratory. Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov

#19: An Orthodox priest blesses members of the media on the Soyuz launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch pad March 24, 2014 in Kazakhstan. Launch of the Soyuz rocket is scheduled for March 26, Kazakh time, and will send Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Steve Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

#20: Striking a pose in front of St. Basil's Cathedral at Red Square in Moscow, Expedition 39/40 crewmembers Steve Swanson of NASA (left), Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos (center) and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos (right) took time from ceremonial activities March 6 for a photo opportunity. Swanson, Skvortsov and Artemyev are preparing for their launch to the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan March 26, Kazakh time, in their Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft for a six-month mission. Photo credit: NASA

#21: A view from the International Space Station shows the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft shortly before docking of the two orbiting vehicles. Onboard the Soyuz at this time were incoming Expedition 39 crew members -- Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) Flight Engineer Steve Swanson of NASA and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos. Onboard the orbiting complex were Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA and Flight Engineer Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos.

 #22:  The Soyuz TMA-12M rocket launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 26, 2014 (Kazakh time), carrying Expedition 39 Soyuz Commander Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Steven Swanson of NASA, and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky 

#23:  With darkness in the Zvezda Service Module, the view outside two windows in the module photographed in the early hours of Expedition 39, an Earth horizon (left) and portions of the Pirs Docking Compartment are visible. In the right window, part of a Strela crane and part of an antenna, both attached to the Pirs, can be seen.       

In Print, People wilderness nasa space station international space station astronaut space lab summer 2014

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