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Canada’s 1st Space Station Commander, U. S., Russian Astronauts Land in Kazakhstan

Three International Space Station astronauts reached Earth safely late Monday, including the first from Canada to command the six person orbiting science laboratory.

Chris Hadfield, Canada's first spacecraft commander, Roman Romanenko and Tom Marshburn, pictured left to right, relax at their Soyuz landing site in southern Kazakhstan. Photo Credit/NASA TV

The landing followed a flurry of activities that led to a Saturday spacewalk for the repair of a thermal control system leak within the station’s electricity producing solar power system.

Chris Hadfield, who led Expedition 35 for 60 days, NASA’s Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko descended in their Soyuz capsule onto the plains of southern Kazakhstan at 10:31 p.m., EST, ending a 146-day journey.

They were greeted quickly by helicopter born recovery forces and flown to Karaganda in northern Kazakhstan for a traditional greeting ceremony. Then, Hadfield and Marshburn boarded a NASA jet for Houston, Tex., and the Johnson Space Center. Romanenko headed by Russian aircraft for Star City, Russia for a reunion with family members.

Tom Marshburn, Roman Romanenko and Chris Hadfield, pictured left to right, participate in post landing ceremonies in Karaganda. Photo Credit/NASA TV

As the trio undocked from the space station just after 7 p.m., EST, command of the station’s Expedition 36 transferred to Pavel Vinogradov, a veteran Russian cosmonaut. He remains aboard the station with NASA’s Chris Cassidy and fellow cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin.

Hadfield’s command was marked with a flurry of public outreach that included his musical talents, photography and the extensive use of Twitter and other social media to share his experiences.

The highlights included  a pre-departure cover performance of  David Bowie’s  Space Oddity, which quickly went viral. Through his guitar playing and singing, Hadfield conveyed the emotion of life beyond Earth.

As he prepared to leave the station, Hadfield stressed his first priorities were the safety of his crew and the space station as well as scientific research.

The 53-year-old former shuttle astronaut and retired Canadian Air Force officer excelled at each.

A rapid response spacewalk on Saturday served as a final reminder. Hadfield supervised as Cassidy and Marshburn were dispatched on a spacewalk to replace what appeared to be a leaking thermal control system pump module.

“It was very exciting,” recalled Marshburn. “And it was surprising relaxing.”

NASA’s Mission Control is monitoring the repair.

Vinogradov spotted the leak just 1 1/2 days earlier.

NASA’s Mission Control is monitoring the repair.

 

 

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