Expedition 29 Space Station Trio Lands Safely In Kazakhstan
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Three astronauts living aboard the International Space Station for the past six months safely touched down in Kazakhstan Monday, leaving three others aboard the orbiting complex until another crew is sent on December 21.
Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum and Flight Engineers Satoshi Furukawa of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Sergei Volkov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) landed in their Soyuz spacecraft on the central steppe of Kazakhstan after spending 165 days on the ISS.
“It has landed,” said a message flashed on the screen at Moscow mission control. State television pictures showed the astronauts extracted from the capsule, appearing in good health and good spirits, although Furukawa looked noticeably exhausted.
The capsule landed on its side rather than its bottom after its parachuted descent, according to Mission Control, adding that such a landing was not unusual. The landing was on time and on target.
Valery Lyndin, spokesman for Mission Control, said all three astronauts are in good health.
NASA spokesman Josh Byerly said the recovery operation was swift despite the freezing weather and strong wind.
The three astronauts were flown to Kustunay for a traditional welcome home ceremony where they will part ways. Volkov will be flying to a cosmonaut training facility near Moscow, while Fossum and Furukawa will fly directly to Houston.
NASA’s Dan Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin remain aboard the ISS awaiting three new space station members — NASA astronaut Don Pettit, European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers, and cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko — due to arrive in late December. Before departing the complex, Fossum handed over the reins to Burbank, who is leading Expedition 30.
Image Caption: Russian support personnel work to help get crew members out of the Soyuz TMA-02M spacecraft shortly after the capsule landed with Expedition 29 Commander Mike Fossum and flight engineers Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa in a remote area outside of the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, at 9:26 p.m. EST on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 (8:26 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011, Kazakhstan time). NASA astronaut Fossum, Russian cosmonaut Volkov and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Furukawa are returning from more than five months aboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 28 and 29 crews. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
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