Astronauts return to Earth on Russian spacecraft

March 18, 2010
Astronauts work outside the International Space Station, February 2010. A Russian spacecraft carrying a Russian cosmonaut and a US astronaut back from the ISS has landed in Kazakhstan, mission control in Moscow said

A Russian cosmonaut and a US astronaut returned to Earth on Thursday from the International Space Station (ISS) after 169 days in space, mission control in Moscow said.

"The crew of the Souyz TMA-16 craft is on Earth," it said in a statement, after Jeffrey Williams of the United States and Russia's Maxim Surayev touched down after five-and-a-half months together on the ISS.

At 1125 GMT, the "made a safe landing in the designated area northeast of the town of Arkalyk" in the steppes of Kazakhstan, the mission control said.

"The cosmonauts are feeling well," it added.

"Working in frigid temperatures, Russian recovery teams were on hand at the landing site to help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and readjust to gravity," the US agency NASA said in a statement.

NASA said that as members of the Expedition 21 and 22 crews, the two presided over the completion of the US segment of the space station.

The Russian-US duo had been high above Earth for 169 days, blasting off into space on September 30, 2009 and docking with the ISS on October 2, according Russia's mission control.

Until December 1, Surayev and Williams had worked as flight engineers in a crew that also included Belgian Frank De Winne, Canadian Robert Thirsk and Russian Roman Romanenko.

After Winne, Thirsk and Romanenko left, Williams assumed command of the ISS, which had been manned by just two people until three more crew members arrived on December 23.

The three current inhabitants -- Russia's Oleg Kotov, Soichi Noguchi of Japan and US astronaut Timothy Creamer -- will man the ISS until the arrival of a new spacecraft, the Soyuz TMA-18, whose launch is planned for April 2.

The ISS, which orbits 350 kilometres (220 miles) above Earth, is a sophisticated platform for scientific experiments, helping test the effects of long-term space travel on humans, a must for any trip to distant Mars.

Explore further: ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori arrives at the International Space Station

Related Stories

Brazilian astronaut OK'd for ISS mission

December 7, 2005

Russian Space Agency medical officials say Brazil's first astronaut, Marcos Pontes, has been cleared to fly to the International Space Station.

ISS prepares for new crew arrival

March 20, 2006

The two-man international space station crew repositioned their Soyuz spacecraft Monday to prepare for the arrival of the next ISS crew.

ISS astronauts land safely in Kazakhstan

December 1, 2009

A space capsule carrying a Belgian, a Canadian and a Russian landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan on Tuesday after the trio spent half a year on the International Space Station (ISS).

Astronauts to taste 'space sushi'

December 3, 2009

US astronaut Timothy Creamer said on Thursday he was impatient to taste "space sushi" courtesy of his Japanese crewmate after they arrive on the International Space Station (ISS) later this month.

Recommended for you

Hubble captures a galactic waltz

November 26, 2015

This curious galaxy—only known by the seemingly random jumble of letters and numbers 2MASX J16270254+4328340—has been captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope dancing the crazed dance of a galactic merger. The ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.