ISS Expedition 30 Touches Down Safely In Kazakhstan
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying the three members of Expedition 30 landed safely in Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m. EDT after successfully undocking from the International Space Station (ISS) and returning home from their nearly 6 month stay on the high-flying lab.
Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin have been on board the ISS since November 16, 2011, spending 165 days in space, before loading into the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft and undocking from the station´s Poisk module at 4:18 a.m. EDT.
Before departing the ISS, Burbank handed command over to Oleg Kononenko, the Russian Space Agency´s commander of Expedition 31. NASA astronaut Don Petit and European Space Agency´s (ESA) Andre Kuipers remain on board with Kononenko.
NASA astronaut Joseph Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin are scheduled to join Kononenko, Petit and Kuipers on May 16, after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on May 14.
The Soyuz TMA-22 performed a de-orbit burn minutes before the descent module separated from the rest of the spacecraft and entered Earth´s atmosphere. Russian army helicopters patrolled the skies as the module made its gradual descent, deploying several parachutes and then firing three engines to give the craft a gentle landing in a field of straw and early spring grass before rolling over gently onto its side.
Medics stood by as space officials unsealed the hatch on the module. Live NASA TV footage showed cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov emerge first from the craft seemingly in good spirits.
Shkaplerov appeared “in good shape and none the worse for wear” a NASA commentator said as he emerged.
This landing marked the final touch-down by the older analogue version of the Soyuz capsule. It is being replaced by a more updated digital version.