Soyuz Crew Lands Safely

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The Expedition 27 crew of Commander Dmitry Kondratyev and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli and Cady Coleman landed upright in a remote area southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, after more than five months onboard the International Space Station. After undocking fromt he station, Nespoli took the first still images and video of a space shuttle docked to the station. In order to get the best view for the photo-op, the ISS had to rotate 130 degrees.

See a (shaky) video of the landing, below.

Russian recovery teams helped the crew exit the Soyuz and adjust to gravity. Kondratyev will return to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside of Moscow, while NASA’s Coleman and Nespoli of the European Space Agency will fly directly to Houston.

They launched on a Soyuz back on Dec. 15, 2010, and spent 159 days in space. They worked on more than 150 microgravity experiments in human research; biology and biotechnology; physical and materials sciences; technology development; and Earth and space sciences.

19 Replies to “Soyuz Crew Lands Safely”

    1. A recently returned female cosmonaut, who had flown aboard both the Shuttle and the Soyuz, was interviewed stating her preference was to land in the comfort of the Shuttle but to take-off in the safety of the Soyuz – a possible reference to the Shuttle SRBs or foam strikes, but she didn’t elaborate further.

    2. A recently returned female cosmonaut, who had flown aboard both the Shuttle and the Soyuz, was interviewed stating her preference was to land in the comfort of the Shuttle but to take-off in the safety of the Soyuz – a possible reference to the Shuttle SRBs or foam strikes, but she didn’t elaborate further.

    3. A recently returned female cosmonaut, who had flown aboard both the Shuttle and the Soyuz, was interviewed stating her preference was to land in the comfort of the Shuttle but to take-off in the safety of the Soyuz – a possible reference to the Shuttle SRBs or foam strikes, but she didn’t elaborate further.

    1. Don’t let the sudden cloud of dust fool you. Soyuz has always used landing rockets that fire at the last second (a probe that hangs about 4 feet below the capsule that touches the ground first is the trigger) to make landing on land acceptable.

      Their exhaust is what does that, it always looks like that. Ultimately, the SpaceX Dragon may depend even more heavily than that on powered descent…

      1. In fact the Syouz TMA features a redesign of this system that reduces landing velocities by 15-30%. I’m fairly sure I’ve seen 2m/s thrown around somewhere.

    1. The Soyuz program bought us the first confirmed inflight fatality in the history of space flight (Soyuz 1), and the first fatalities in space (soyuz 11) so I guess not everybody who’s ridden a soyuz capsule can say that either (however those were first generation capsules, with current missions in 4th generation capsules).

      Having said that, the Soyuz capsules are generally regarded as the most reliable means of space transport currently available, however, they are still not flawless.

      1. Those incidents were in 1967 and 1971, so they do not reflect much at all on what we now call Soyuz.

        Perhaps the real lesson is that reusable spacecraft which are too expensive to redesign and rebuild, and a complete departure from established practice, weren’t such a good idea after all.

      2. And?
        The first incident occured after five years of operation, as did the first incident in the Shuttle program.
        The Americans, the Europeans, and even the Russians call it the same vehicle, and the same program – yes, part of it have been upgraded, however..
        Soyuz 1 was a parachute failure.
        Soyuz 11 was caused by the explosive bolts firing simultaneously, rather than in the correct sequence, which triggered a valve which resulted in the spacecraft venting in less time than it took them to find the valve and plug it.
        Do you know what the Soviet solution was? They cut the crew back from Three to two, to make room for emergency spacesuits in the capsule – a practice that would remain the status quo until the Soyuz T in 1980.
        These were both mechanical failures. Challenger and Columbia, when push comes to shove were due to failures in management and management culture, and could have been avoided.

      3. Soyuz 1 was obviously not after five years. According to Wikipedia, it was the fault of top-level politicians, not engineers or even managers. The craft was simply not ready to fly.

        Challenger and Columbia were not victims of sloppy management. The Shuttle was designed to be reused cheaply, so the amount of inspection and refurbishment was systematically underestimated from the beginning. The “culture” of reworking at such great expense amounts to a mission failure far greater than a crew reduction for a couple dozen flights.

        Rocket debris chipping off the gigantic heat-shield is as fundamental a flaw to a spacecraft design as I can think of. Not being able to fix the problem by redesign of the shield or rocket marks the whole program as unsound.

      4. “Soyuz 1 was obviously not after five years. According to Wikipedia, it was the fault of top-level politicians, not engineers or even managers. The craft was simply not ready to fly.”
        Typo.

        “Challenger and Columbia were not victims of sloppy management. The Shuttle was designed to be reused cheaply, so the amount of inspection and refurbishment was systematically underestimated from the beginning. The “culture” of reworking at such great expense amounts to a mission failure far greater than a crew reduction for a couple dozen flights.”
        They precisely were. In both cases warnings were made in advance, warnings which the management ignored. In the case of Challenger, erosion of the O-Rings had been observed on several previous missions, and Morton Thiokol Engineers warned NASA the night before the launch that launching may be unsafe, and result in burn through of the primary O-ring seal. NASA’s decision to launch was based on the assumption that that if the primary o-ring failed, the secondary would seal – a decision that they’re not actually allowed to make on a criticality one component. There are other factors as well, involving blow by and extrusion – not originally design features, but features that came to be an accepted part of nominal operation.

        IN the case of Columbia, it was the left foam bipod ramp that broke off and struck the leading edge RCC panels, again, this is an anomalous event that had been observed on several previous missions, however as it had not caused any significant harm to the vehicle in previous missions, it became accepted as ‘nominal’. the foam bipod ramp is non-critical to a safe launch, and could be done without, if the management had acted on the anomalous events in previous missions, the tragedy might have been avoided. Additionally, egineers believed damage had occured, their models supported that, and petitioned the management to use DOD assets to image the vehicle while in orbit, however the management blocked those requests, because they came to the conclusion that any damage would be less severe than the models suggested (the models suggested that the panel had been penetrated completely) because the foam is less dense than Ice, and besides, there wasn’t much they could do anyway. As it turns out, the Columbia had sufficient supplies to stay in orbit until Feb 15, and Atlantis, which was being processed for a March 1 launch, could have safely been in the air by Feb 10. As an alternative, it was also pointed out that a viable solution involving Titanium and bags of frozen water might have gotten the Columbia down safely.

        However, because the management had already decided that there was nothing that could be done anyway, the possibility of damage was not investigated, rescue plans were not investigated, and the mission proceeded as normal.

        In both cases, there was information available before the accidents that suggested that an accident was probable if the status quo continued. In both cases, people tried to bring this information to the attention of NASA management before the tragedies occured that might have been averted if that information had been acted on, however, because of the management, and the culture of the management, it was ignored, and a likellyhood became an inevitability.

      5. Actually the problem wasn’t insulation dropping off, or even ice, commonly coming off less well or uninsulated LOX/LH2 lifters. But the chipping off of the heat shield, as you note.

        The US shuttle* is a midship mount, smack in the middle of the paths of parts coming off _and_ of tanks of explosives.

        Other (winged) reusable crafts doesn’t have that problem.

        ———
        * And the US shuttle clone the Buran was too, natch.

        Also, the Energia was a kerosene/LOX potential ice ablater.

        But look at this: Even so the Buran/Energia combo is, apart from the Apollo/Saturn V, in my mind the most awesome machine ever made!

        Nitpick: To the list of points surpassing the STS, one should note that the Buran thermal shield took some 100 K more max temperature, and (I believe) _never came off_.

      6. Incidentally – I feel somewhat compelled to point out that both the Challenger and Columbia accidents resulted in spacecraft redesigns.

        The Challenger accident resulted in a redesign of the way the SRB segments interlocked, as well as the addition of a third O-ring.

        The Columbia accident resulted in the removal of the bipod ramp, and later some foam insulation from one of the LOX/LH2 lines (I forget which off the top of my head).

      7. Soyuz 1 was obviously not after five years. According to Wikipedia, it was the fault of top-level politicians, not engineers or even managers. The craft was simply not ready to fly.

        Challenger and Columbia were not victims of sloppy management. The Shuttle was designed to be reused cheaply, so the amount of inspection and refurbishment was systematically underestimated from the beginning. The “culture” of reworking at such great expense amounts to a mission failure far greater than a crew reduction for a couple dozen flights.

        Rocket debris chipping off the gigantic heat-shield is as fundamental a flaw to a spacecraft design as I can think of. Not being able to fix the problem by redesign of the shield or rocket marks the whole program as unsound.

      8. and a complete departure from established practice,

        A departure, whether complete or not, is what characterize new technique, period.

        Winged spacecrafts have a long legacy, and continue as of today for the foreseeable future:

        – The X15 reusable (winged) rocket craft program started before the capsule program and resulted in suborbital flights.

        – Buran complemented the US shuttles successfully 1988.

        – SS1 made suborbital flights successfully 2004.

        – X37 program is in orbit since 2010.

        – SS2, descendant of SS2, will continue development with suborbital flights this year IIRC.

        – The CCDev2 has a winged orbital entrant, the Dream Chaser, that will start drop tests next year.

        Before capsules, reusable winged spacecraft were, and remains, established practice.

      9. and a complete departure from established practice,

        A departure, whether complete or not, is what characterize new technique, period.

        Winged spacecrafts have a long legacy, and continue as of today for the foreseeable future:

        – The X15 reusable (winged) rocket craft program started before the capsule program and resulted in suborbital flights.

        – Buran complemented the US shuttles successfully 1988.

        – SS1 made suborbital flights successfully 2004.

        – X37 program is in orbit since 2010.

        – SS2, descendant of SS2, will continue development with suborbital flights this year IIRC.

        – The CCDev2 has a winged orbital entrant, the Dream Chaser, that will start drop tests next year.

        Before capsules, reusable winged spacecraft were, and remains, established practice.

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