Space crew returns to Earth from ISS

Mar 16, 2013 by Alexander Nemenov
A NASA image taken on the International Space Station shows part of the ISS and Earth, on March 9, 2013. Three astronauts have returned safely to Earth from the ISS, aboard a Russian capsule which landed on the freezing Kazakhstan steppe, mission control said.

Three astronauts returned safely to Earth from the International Space Station early Saturday, aboard a Russian capsule which landed on the freezing Kazakhstan steppe, mission control said.

"There is landing!" flashed a Russian mission control centre message transmitted by NASA. Rescue teams rushed to recover the capsule carrying NASA US astronaut Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin.

"The crew felt normal through the descent and landing, their mood is good," Russian agencies quoted the Russian mission control official commentator as saying.

It was the first for the Russian cosmonauts, and the second for astronaut Ford, who was captain of the crew. They arrived at the station in October.

Roscosmos confirmed the landing time as 0305 GMT. "The landing was completed as planned," it said in a statement. "The crew is feeling good. In the coming hours, they will be transported to a permanent location for post-flight rehabilitation."

Saturday's landing had been delayed by a day due to poor weather conditions, but rescue helicopters still had to contend with thick ground fog which descended on the landing area and drastically reduced visibility.

The spherical Soyuz vessel landed upright and four workers were shown prying the hatch open to extract the three men. They pulled the crew members out of the capsule and helped them down a special slide.

Evgeny Tarelkin pumped his fists as he sat on the edge of the capsule. The smiling men were then bundled up by the Russian rescue workers and sat recovering in special chairs.

They were rushed into a helicopter within minutes of arrival to escape the , as no medical tent was brought to the location by the skeleton evacuation crew that braved nearly zero visibility, the NASA commentator said in footage broadcast online by NASA-TV.

NASA later uploaded a photo of the trio giving a collective thumbs-up at Kazakhstan's Kustanay airport, near Russia's border. Ford was holding an apparent departure gift on his lap: a traditional Russian nesting doll painted as an astronaut.

The International Space Station (ISS) crew members, US astronaut Kevin Ford (C) and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy (bottom) and Evgeny Tarelkin (top) wave as they board the Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft at the Russian leased Kazakhstan's Baikonur cosmodrome, on October 23, 2012, shortly before their launch.

"The crew that landed today, they have an aura of a united, friendly team," said chief Vladimir Popovkin in a televised press conference. "I think they have a great future in space."

The crew encountered no problems during their 143 days in space, where they conducted 34 scientific experiments, he added. "What will this crew be remembered by? That everything went as planned during their flight," he said.

The Soyuz TMA-06M Russian spacecraft had separated from the ISS on schedule and entered the earth atmosphere at about 0240 GMT.

"Just closed the hatch on the departing crew. The echo rang through the Station in many ways, we are now 3 onboard this huge ship. So cool," tweeted Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut who is now captain of the remaining ISS members, NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko.

The current team will remain in space until May. They expect to be joined by Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin and NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, who will be sent into space later this month.

Since 2009 there have been teams of six astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the , whose capacity was previously limited to only three people.

spacecraft, used since 1967, are currently the only way to ferry to the ISS after the US retired its iconic space shuttle programme in 2011.

Russia has suffered several recent setbacks in its space program, notably losing expensive satellites and an unmanned supply ship to the ISS last year, but the manned missions have been flawless.

Explore further: Planetary Society hopes tiny satellite sets sail above Earth

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Russian rocket docks with space station

Dec 17, 2010

A Russian Soyuz space rocket carrying three astronauts on Friday docked with the International Space Station (ISS), Russia's mission control said.

Russia delivers three astronauts to ISS

May 17, 2012

Two Russians and an American joined three colleagues aboard the International Space Station Thursday for a mission that should include receiving the orbiter's first visit from a private spacecraft.

Soyuz capsule docks with space Station

Dec 21, 2012

A Soyuz capsule packed with three astronauts successfully docked Friday with the International Space Station, taking the size of the full crew at the orbiting laboratory to six.

Russia sets space crew's return after crash

Sep 12, 2011

Russia said Monday it would return three of the six international crew members on board the International Space Station to Earth later this week despite no immediate plans to send up their replacement.

Recommended for you

Exploring Mars in low Earth orbit

6 hours ago

In their quest to understand life's potential beyond Earth, astrobiologists study how organisms might survive in numerous environments, from the surface of Mars to the ice-covered oceans of Jupiter's moon, ...

Lifetime of gravity measurements heralds new beginning

8 hours ago

Although ESA's GOCE satellite is no more, all of the measurements it gathered during its life skirting the fringes our atmosphere, including the very last as it drifted slowly back to Earth, have been drawn ...

NASA's IceCube no longer on ice

12 hours ago

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has chosen a team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to build its first Earth science-related CubeSat mission.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

The Singularity
1 / 5 (1) Mar 16, 2013
Whats the rush?, they are sat quite comfortably in a heated capsule that has just survived the immense heat of re-entry & now there some sort of big emergency because its -10 outside. Really?