Canada's first command of the International Space Station drew to a close late Monday, as skipper Chris Hadfield, U.S. astronaut Tom Marshburn and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko boarded their Russian Soyuz TMA-07M capsule, undocked and descended safely under parachute onto the plains of southern Kazakhstan.
The spacecraft touched down at 10:31 p.m., EST, or Tuesday at 8:31 a.m., local time, under a sunlit sky to end a 146 day mission for the three men and bring ISS Expedition 35 to a conclusion.
Chris Hadfield, Canadian commander, Roman Romanenko, and Tom Marshburn, pictured left to right, at their Kazakh landing site. Photo Credit: NASA TV
Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko were greeted within minutes of their landing by helicopter-borne Russian landing and recovery forces that assisted the fliers from their spacecraft in the landing zone southeast of Dzhezkazgan.
If weary, all three fliers appeared to be in good health as they were checked by flight surgeons.
"We're doing well," Romanenko reported through a translator seconds before touchdown. "It's beautiful, it's morning here."
With the Soyuz undocking at 7:08 p.m., EST, command of the six-person orbiting science lab transferred to Russian Pavel Vinogradov, a veteran cosmonaut. His Expedition 36 crew includes U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin. They anticipate the May 28 arrival of U.S., Russian and European replacements, Karen Nyberg, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Luca Parmitano.
Hadfield, a retired Canadian Air Force officer and test pilot, assumed command of the ISS on March 15. The mission was his third to space since his selection to Canada’s astronaut corps in 1992.
After field exams by flight surgeons, Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko were to be flown by helicopter to Karaganda in northern Kazakhstan. There, they were to part company, with Hadfield and Marshburn boarding a NASA transport jet for Houston, Tex., and NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Romanenko was to fly to Star City, Russia to rejoin family and the cosmonaut corps.