March 18, 2013
Credit: Expedition 33 crew photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls
A Russian Soyuz capsule made a “bull’s eye” landing in the steppes of Kazakhstan on Saturday, delivering a Russian-American trio from the International Space Station, a day after its originally scheduled touchdown was delayed by foul weather.
NASA’s Kevin Ford and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin, who had manned the $100 billion orbital outpost since October as Expedition 34, landed in cloudy weather at 7:06 a.m. Moscow time (0306 GMT) northeast of the town of Arkalyk.
They had spent 144 days aboard the multinational ISS on their space journey of almost 61 million miles (98 million km).
“The landing was energetic and exciting,” Russian TV showed Novitskiy as saying.
NASA television said the deorbit burn and other events during the descent had gone flawlessly. It said the capsule had landed upright, almost hitting its bull’s eye target in thick fog.
“Oleg Novitskiy reported to search and recovery teams that the crew is feeling good,” NASA television said. “Everything seems to be in order.”
Due to hampered visibility, it took a few minutes before helicopters with Russian search and recovery teams could locate the Soyuz capsule after its landing.
The first images shown by Russia’s Vesti-24 television featured rescue workers standing in a snow-covered steppe opening the hatch of the capsule.
The three smiling astronauts were seated on semi-reclined chairs and covered with blue thermal blankets. They were then carried to a nearby inflatable medical tent.