Soyuz Lands Safely
International Space Station Expedition 20 Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Michael Barratt landed their Soyuz TMA-14 spacecraft on the steppes of Kazakhstan Sunday, wrapping up a six-month stay. Joining them was spaceflight participant Guy Laliberte, who spent 11 days in space.
Padalka, the Soyuz commander, guided the spacecraft to a parachute-assisted landing at 12:32 a.m. EDT at a site northeast of the town of Arkalyk.
Russian recovery teams were on hand within minutes of landing to help the crew exit from the Soyuz vehicle and reacclimate to gravity. The crew members will return to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside of Moscow, for reunions with their families.
Padalka and Barratt spent 199 days in space and 197 days on the station after their March 26 launch. Laliberte launched with the Expedition 21 crew on a Soyuz vehicle Sept. 30 and returned after nine days on the station.
Padalka and Barratt presided over the inauguration of a six-person crew and two space shuttle assembly and resupply missions to the station. They also were station crew members during the delivery of tons of cargo and new science facilities for expanded research, and the arrival of the first Japanese H-II Transfer cargo vehicle.
The station now is occupied by Expedition 21 Commander Frank De Winne of the European Space Agency and Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Max Suraev of Russia, Bob Thirsk of the Canadian Space Agency and Nicole Stott and Jeff Williams of NASA.
For information about the space station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station
Image Caption: Expedition 20 Flight Engineer Michael Barratt is surrounded by support personnel shortly after landing in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA TV