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U. S., Russian, European Crew Lands in Kazakhstan

NASA astroaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers, of the European Space Agency, pictured left to right, return safely to Earth early Sunday. Photo Credit/NASA Photo


U.S., Russian and European astronauts landed safely inKazakhstan early Sunday, ending a 6 1/2 mission to the International Space Station.

The Soyuz transport with Don Pettit, Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers touched down under parachute at 4:14 a.m, EDT, or shortly after 2 p.m. in the Central Asian nation.

All three men appeared weary but in good shape as Russian recovery teams that included U. S.and European medical personnel arrived at the landing site by helicopter to assist them from their spacecraft.

The 29 Soyuz mission spacecraft undocked from the station at  12:48 a.m., EDT, leaving Russian Gennady Padalka in command. Padalka, Russian Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba docked with the station in their own Soyuz transport in mid-May.

Russian recovery forces converge on landing site to assist Soyuz astronauts from their spacecraft. Image Credit/NASA TV

Six crew station operations are scheduled to resume on July 17, as NASA astronaut Sunita Williams, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency arrive in yet another Soyuz capsule.

Pettit, Kononenko and Kuipers logged 193 days in orbit.

Their activities aboard the ISS included the first visit from aU. S.commercial re-supply craft, the SpaceX Dragon. The May mission opened a new chapter in NASA’s post-shuttle plans to turn over crew and cargo missions to commercial providers.

Pettit led Kuipers and Acaba in the track and capture of the Dragon with the staton’s 58-foot-long robot arm, Canadarm2.

Space station astronauts Joe Acaba, Sergei Revin and Gennady Padalka, pictured left to right, bid farewall to Oleg Kononenko, Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers. Image Credit/NASA TV

Pettit, Kononenko and Kuipers devoted most of their activities to research in a wide range of disciplines, including human health, physics, biology, materials properties, Earth observations, robotics and astrophysics. Their multi-national science agenda included more than 200 individual, on going experiments.




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