ISS astronauts land safely in Kazakhstan

Dec 01, 2009
Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk rests in a vehicle after he returned to earth from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Soyuz TMA-15 space capsule that landed around 88 kms (55 miles) north of the town of Arkalyk, in northern Kazakhstan.

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).

Belgian Frank De Winne, Canadian Robert Thirsk and Russian Roman Romanenko landed at 10:16 am (0716 GMT) around 88 kilometres (55 miles) north of Arkalyk, a town in central Kazakhstan, a spokeswoman for Russian mission control said.

Television pictures showed the astronauts being pulled from the Soyuz TMA-15 capsule and put onto stretchers by Russian cosmonaut-retrieval crews.

De Winne -- the first European to command the ISS -- waved to the television camera as he was loaded onto a stretcher.

Astronauts have trouble walking when they return to Earth after long stays in zero gravity.

Freezing weather and low clouds forced the cosmonaut-retrieval crews to head to the landing scene in all-terrain vehicles rather than the usual helicopters, space officials said.

"They feel good.... I congratulate everyone. The main thing is they are all alive and well," Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian federal space agency, told a televised news conference after the landing.

Steve MacLean, head of the Canadian space agency, called the trio's space voyage an "amazing adventure."

"On behalf of the Canadian space agency and on behalf of Canada I want to congratulate the crew," MacLean told reporters.

"This was a mission of international partnership and I think history will show this is how we will work in the future," he added.

De Winne, Thirsk and Romanenko had been in space more than six months, arriving at the ISS on May 29.

Romanenko, 38, was making his first flight into space and following in the footsteps of his father, Yury Romanenko, a veteran Soviet cosmonaut who made a number of spaceflights in the 1970s and 1980s.

The three had originally been scheduled to be transported to the Star City cosmonaut training centre outside Moscow on Tuesday to be reunited with their families and to continue re-adjusting to gravity.

However the bad weather delayed their departure until at least Wednesday, meaning they would spend the night in Kazakhstan, officials said.

The ISS will be manned by just two people, US astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev, until late December, when three more crew members are set to arrive.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Elon Musk's SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New dinner table top priority as ISS expands

May 07, 2009

Astronauts set to blast off for the International Space Station said Thursday that constructing a new dinner table would be a top priority as its permanent crew expands to six.

Astronauts blast off to double space station crew

May 27, 2009

Three astronauts, from Canada, Belgium and Russia, blasted off Wednesday for the International Space Station in a landmark mission that will double its crew to six for the first time.

Russian cargo spacecraft nearing ISS

Jun 17, 2005

MOSCOW, June 17 (UPI) -- A Russian cargo spacecraft has been launched into orbit successfully and will reach the International Space Station Saturday, Russian space officials said.

Recommended for you

Mysteries in Nili Fossae

14 minutes ago

These new images from the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA's Mars Express show Nili Fossae, one of the most enticing regions on Mars. This 'graben system' lies northeast of the volcanic region of Syrtis ...

Image: Jupiter's cratered moon, Callisto

39 minutes ago

The speckled object depicted here is Callisto, Jupiter's second largest moon. This image was taken in May 2001 by NASA's Galileo spacecraft, which studied Jupiter and its moons from 1995 until 2003.

Helicopter could be 'scout' for Mars rovers

44 minutes ago

Getting around on Mars is tricky business. Each NASA rover has delivered a wealth of information about the history and composition of the Red Planet, but a rover's vision is limited by the view of onboard ...

Spacecraft Integral manoeuvres for the future

2 hours ago

Since 2002, ESA's Integral spacecraft has been observing some of the most violent events in the Universe, including gamma-ray bursts and black holes. While it still has years of life ahead, its fuel will ...

User comments : 0

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.