Expedition 13, Ansari Return to Earth

A Soyuz capsule carrying the crew of Expedition 13 and space tourist Anousheh Ansari landed safely in the steppes of Kazakhstan on Thursday. The spacecraft slowed its descent using retrorockets and parachutes, and landed softly on its side. A dozen helicopter teams arrived on the scene minutes later to help the astronauts out of the spacecraft. They were then flown to a training centre outside Moscow. The total return time back to Earth took about 3 hours from when the capsule detached from the space station.

After six months aboard the International Space Station that included arrival of two space shuttle missions, resumption of construction of the orbiting laboratory and the restoration of a three-member crew, Expedition 13 landed at 9:13 p.m. EDT in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Commander Pavel Vinogradov and NASA station science officer Jeff Williams landed in their Soyuz TMA 8 spacecraft about 50 miles northeast of Arkalyk. Russian recovery forces and NASA officials arrived at the site shortly after the spacecraft touched down. The Soyuz undocked from the space station at 5:53 p.m. EDT.

The crew will spend several weeks in Star City, near Moscow, for debriefing and medical examinations.

With Williams and Vinogradov was Spaceflight Participant Anousheh Ansari, who flew to the station with the Expedition 14 crew and spent eight days there. The American businesswoman went to the station under a contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency.

During their mission, which launched March 29, Vinogradov and Williams were joined by Thomas Reiter, a European Space Agency astronaut from Germany. He became the first non-Russian, non-U.S. long-duration station crew member. He will remain aboard as part of the Expedition 14 crew until December when he returns to Earth on the next space shuttle flight.

Two successful spacewalks were conducted during Expedition 13. The first was by Vinogradov and Williams in Russian spacesuits and the second by Williams and Reiter in U.S. spacesuits.

Vinogradov and Williams welcomed Space Shuttle Discovery astronauts and Reiter during the STS-121 mission to the station in July. In September Space Shuttle Atlantis’ crew on the STS-115 mission brought and installed the station’s integrated P3/P4 truss segments.

Expedition 14 Commander Mike Lopez-Alegria, Mikhail Tyurin and Reiter, now are on their own aboard the station after a week of handover, maintenance and some science activities. Vinogradov and Tyurin replaced a major component of the Elektron oxygen-producing device, which malfunctioned shortly after Atlantis departed.

The device was activated Sept. 16 and functioned for about three hours before shutting itself off. Further troubleshooting is planned.

The next status report will be issued Friday, Oct. 6, or earlier if events warrant. For more about the crew’s activities and station sighting opportunities, visit:


Original Source: NASA News Release