Expedition 32 Lands Safely In Kazakhstan After Four Months In Space
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Three astronauts returned safely to Earth on Sunday after completing a four-month mission aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The Expedition 32 crew, American Flight Engineer Joe Acaba, Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin of Russia, undocked their Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft from the orbiting space lab at 7:09 p.m. EDT and landed in northern Kazakhstan at 10:53 p.m. EDT Sunday night (8:53 a.m. Sept 17 local time).
The homeward bound Soyuz fired its orbital engines one last time at 9:56 p.m. The descent module then separated from the spacecraft and fell through the atmosphere, deployed its parachutes and fired landing engines shortly before touchdown to soften the impact. The successful landing wraps up a mission that began on May 17 with the Expedition 32 crew spending 125 days in space.
Their return leaves just three astronauts aboard the ISS until Russian federal space agency Roscosmos launches the next manned Soyuz flight in October. Originally planned for an October 15 launch, Roscosmos said technical issues forced them to postpone the launch one week. That crew will consist of Flight Engineers Kevin Ford, Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin.
Expedition 33 crew Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineers Aki Hoshide and Yuri Malenchenko will continue to operate aboard the ISS until their departure on November 12. Williams is the second woman to take command of the ISS, and this is her second stint in space as well, previously part of Expedition 14 as a flight engineer. She has conducted six spacewalks, two of which have already occurred during the current mission.
This was the third commanding mission for departing commander Padalka. He previously commanded the ISS during Expedition 19 and 9. His first spaceflight was aboard the Russian Mir space station in 1998. He has spent a total of 711 days in space, ranking him fourth on the most days traveled in space.