Isn’t this a great picture? The Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft, carrying Expedition 18 Commander Michael Fincke, Flight Engineer Yury V. Lonchakov and American Spaceflight Participant Charles Simonyi, landed safely on Wednesday, April 8, 2009, near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Fincke and Lonchakov returned after spending six months on the International Space Station, and Simonyi returned from his launch with the Expedition 19 crew members 12 days earlier. Simonyi made history by becoming the first private explorer to complete a second mission to space. He previously flew to the ISS in spring 2007. “With my second mission, I did much more work, but I was also able to rest and relax. I was physically more prepared and more comfortable given the resources that I brought with me,” Simonyi said. “I am very happy to have made the decision to fly again.”
Fincke spent 178 days in orbit and his command of the ISS saw the station go to full power and begin the urine/water supply recycling system. He also became the first American to fly to and from the space station twice aboard a Russian Soyuz. Fincke served almost 188 days as a flight engineer on the Expedition 9 crew in 2004.
This was Lonchakov’s first long-duration spaceflight and his third flight to space.
Sources: NASA, Space Adventures