Commander and NASA ISS Science Officer Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov, the 10th crew of the International Space Station, landed in the steppes of Kazakhstan in their Soyuz spacecraft at 6:08 p.m. EDT Sunday, after more than six months in space.
Expedition 10 Commander and NASA Station Science Officer Leroy Chiao and Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov landed in central Asia this evening after traveling more than 78 million miles during their mission. Returning with them was European Space Agency Astronaut Roberto Vittori. He spent eight days aboard the Station conducting research.
Image: Expedition 10 Flight Engineer Salizhan Sharipov exits the helicopter that carried the crew to Arkalyk. Credit: NASA
After a flawless descent by the Soyuz spacecraft, Chiao, Sharipov and Vittori landed on target in north-central Kazakhstan, about 53 miles (85 kilometers) northeast of the town of Arkalyk, at 6:08 p.m. EDT. This was the ninth Soyuz to go to the Station and return.
Recovery forces arrived at the site within minutes of touchdown. The area was saturated from recent rains and melting winter snow, so the first recovery team members to reach the scene decided to fly the crew to Arkalyk to meet the rest of the recovery forces.
The crew's friends and families are expected to greet them upon their arrival at Star City, Russia, about eight hours after landing. Chiao and Sharipov will remain in Star City for a few weeks of post-flight debriefings and medical exams before returning to Houston in mid-May.
Chiao and Sharipov spent 192 days, 19 hours and two minutes in space. They launched on October 13 on the same Soyuz spacecraft that brought them home. For six months, the pair maintained systems and conducted scientific research onboard the Station. Their accomplishments included replacing critical hardware in the Joint Quest Airlock; repairing U.S. spacesuits; and submitting a scientific research paper on ultrasound use in space. Chiao was also the first astronaut to vote in the U.S. Presidential election from space. The crew completed two spacewalks, including experiment installation and tasks to prepare the Station for the arrival of a new European cargo spacecraft next year.
Aboard the Station, the Expedition 11 crew, Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer and NASA Station Science Officer John Phillips, is beginning a six-month mission. It will include the resumption of Space Shuttle flights and two spacewalks from the Station. Expedition 11 is scheduled to return to Earth on October 7, 2005.
Krikalev and Phillips will have light duty for the next two days, as they rest after completing a busy handover period. For the past week, they have been learning about Station operations from the two men who called the ship home since October. Chiao and Sharipov briefed Krikalev and Phillips on day-to-day operations and gave them hands-on opportunities at Station maintenance. Chiao and Phillips restored the Quest airlock to working order for future spacewalks and practiced operating the Canadarm2 robotic arm.
Explore further: US-India to collaborate on Mars exploration