November 11, 2013
Expedition 37 Crew, 2014 Winter Games’ Olympic Torch Back On Earth
[ Watch the video: A Warm Welcome For the Crew ]
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineAfter a historic week some 260 miles above Earth, life on the International Space Station (ISS) has started to settle down. What started out as a late night launch last Wednesday for a trio of spacemen and an Olympic Torch, ended today after the successful return to Earth of three other astronauts along with the torch that will light the Olympic flame at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia next February.
Expedition 37 crew members Karen Nyberg of NASA, Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos and Luca Parmitano of the ESA/Italian Space Agency (ASI), undocked from the ISS at 6:26 p.m. EST on Sunday as the orbiting lab soared high over northeast Mongolia. Their Soyuz TMA-09M capsule began a deorbit burn at 8:55 p.m. EST, which slowed the craft for its descent into Earth’s atmosphere. After a well-timed parachute deployment, the trio landed safely in Kazakhstan at 9:49 p.m. EST (8:49 a.m. local time, Nov. 11).
[ Watch the video: Expedition 37 Lands ]
Along with Nyberg, Yurchikhin and Parmitano, came home the Olympic Torch, which spent four days in space after being carried aboard the Soyuz TMA-11M along with Expedition 38 crew members Mikhail Tyurin, Koichi Wakata and Rick Mastracchio. During its time on the space station, the Torch was carried out into the vacuum of space by Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy for a short spacewalk and photo shoot, before being returned to the safety of the orbiting lab.
[ Watch the video: An Olympic Moment in Space ]
After tucking away the Torch, Kotov and Ryazanskiy continued on their extravehicular activity (EVA) for nearly six hours, conducting space station maintenance.
After Saturday’s spacewalk, the Torch was readied for its departure from the space station. A ceremonial change of command occurred on Sunday, with Yurchikhin handing off the reigns to Kotov, who became Commander of Expedition 38 after Yurchikhin and company’s departure Sunday evening.
[ Watch the video: Change of Command ]
Now that the Expedition 37 crew is safely back on Earth, Nyberg and Parmitano will head to Houston, Texas, where they will undergo a series of medical checks before meeting with the media on November 13.
Nyberg, Parmitano and Yurchikhin arrived on the ISS on May 29, 2013 and spent 166 days in space. During their extended stay, they orbited the Earth 2,656 times and traveled 70.3 million miles.
This was Nyberg’s second stint in space; her previous mission lasted 14 days, for a total of 180 days in space. Her last mission was in 2008 on the STS-124 mission aboard space shuttle Discovery. Yurchikhin has spent 537 days in space over four missions. His last mission was in 2010 as part of Expedition 24/25. This was Parmitano’s first mission.
Upon the arrival of the new Expedition 38 crew members last Wednesday, the space station enjoyed a full house, with nine members orbiting the Earth at 17,100 mph. This was the first time the ISS has had nine crew members on board since October 2009.