Expedition 23 Crew Lands Safely In Kazakhstan
Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi landed their Soyuz-17 spacecraft in Kazakhstan Tuesday, June 1, wrapping up a five-and-a-half-month stay aboard the International Space Station.
Kotov, the Soyuz commander, was at the controls of the spacecraft as it undocked at 8:04 p.m. EDT from the aft port on the station’s Zvezda module. The crew landed at 11:25 p.m., east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
Russian recovery teams were on hand to help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after 163 days in space. Kotov will return to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside of Moscow. NASA astronaut Creamer and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Noguchi will return to Houston on Wednesday.
The trio launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 21, 2009. As members of the Expedition 22 and 23 crews, they spent 161 days on the station. They supported three space shuttle missions that delivered the U.S. Tranquility module and its cupola; put the finishing touches on U.S. laboratory research facilities; and attached the Russian Rassvet laboratory and storage module.
Kotov has logged 360 total days in space on his two missions, and Creamer has 163 days. Noguchi, who also flew on the STS-114 shuttle mission, has compiled 177 days in space.
The station is occupied by Expedition 24 Commander Alexander Skvortskov, who took command at 5 p.m. Monday, NASA Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russian Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko, who arrived April 4.
A new trio of Expedition 24 flight engineers, Douglas Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchickhin, will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 4:35 p.m. on June 15 (3:35 a.m. June 16 in Baikonur). They will join the crew when hatches between their Soyuz and the station are opened at 8:34 p.m. on June 17 (2:34 a.m. June 18 in Moscow).
Image Caption: The Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft is seen as it lands with Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Wednesday, June 2, 2010. NASA Astronaut Creamer, Russian Cosmonaut Kotov and Japanese Astronaut Noguchi are returning from six months onboard the International Space Station where they served as members of the Expedition 22 and 23 crews. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
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