‘International’ astronauts land safely in Kazakhstan, says mission control
MOSCOW – A Soyuz space capsule carrying an Italian, a Russian and an American back from the International Space Station has landed safely in Kazakhstan, Russian mission control said Tuesday.
“They have landed and all is well. They landed at approximately 0627 (0227 GMT),” a spokesman for mission control told AFP.
Russia’s Dmitry Kondratyev, Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency, and NASA’s Catherine Coleman landed in the correct location to the east of the town of Jezkazgan after spending 159 days in space, mission control said in a statement.
“All the operations in leaving orbit and landing went according to plan,” mission control said. “The astronauts feel well.”
Television footage showed the astronauts sitting wrapped in blankets and wearing sunglasses after emerging from the Soyuz-TMA capsule onto the sunny steppe.
Coleman was shown smiling and chatting to a cosmonaut retrieval worker while holding a bouquet of flowers, while Nespoli gave a thumbs up as he was carried in a chair to the medical tent shortly after the landing.
Kondratyev, Coleman and Nespoli blasted off on December 15 and worked on the ISS under US commander Scott Kelly until his departure in March, when Kondratyev took over as commander.
On April 7, they were joined on the ISS by Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Andrei Borisenko, and US astronaut Ronald Garan. In May six US astronauts flew in on the Endeavour space shuttle, led by Mark Kelly.
Kondratyev made two space walks during his time on the ISS and also kept a blog. It was his first trip to space after waiting 13 years. His teammates were more experienced, with Nespoli having made one previous flight and Coleman two.
Coleman took her flute into orbit and performed for the other astronauts. She also played a long-distance duet with Ian Anderson, the founder of rock band Jethro Tull, a video of which NASA posted on its website.
Russia’s Soyuz craft will later this year become the sole means for taking humans to the ISS when NASA takes its shuttles out of service, leaving the United States reliant on the more rudimentary Russian technology.
NASA said last week it is aiming to launch the Atlantis shuttle on July 8 with four US astronauts on board in the last-ever flight of the 30-year-old American shuttle programme.
Originally posted 4:51 pm | Tuesday, May 24th, 2011
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