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  • Soyuz Crew Descends Safely into Kazakhstan
    Posted by Mark Carreau 4:23 AM on Sep 16, 2011

    blog post photo
    Alexander Samokutyaev, first out of the Soyuz 26, adjusts to sunlight. Photo Credit/NASA TV 

    The Soyuz 26 capsule has touched down safely in southern Kazakhstan, ending a 164-day voyage for three International Space Station crew members, Russians Andrey Borisenko and Alexander Samokutyaev and American Ron Garan.

    The capsule settled onto the grassy plains under sunny skies and warm temperatures on Sept. 16 at midnight, EDT, or 10 a.m., local time.

    The three men were quickly greeted by helicopter-borne search and rescue crews carrying U.S. as well as Russian personnel, including NASA flight surgeons.

    The fliers appeared weary but in good shape as they were pulled from the charred spacecraft and helped into a field tent for initial medical exams. The Soyuz 26 undocked from the space station at 8:38 p.m., EDT, followed by the de-orbit burn at 11:05 p.m.

    Borisenko, Samokutyaev and Garan were to be flown by helicopter to Karaganda. After a brief stopover they were to separate, with the two Russians flying to Star City, Russia. Garan was to board a NASA jet bound for Houston, Tex., home to NASA's Johnson Space Center.

    The descent left three U.S., Russian and Japanese crew aboard the orbiting science lab. Borisenko transferred command of the station to American Mike Fossum. Fossum's crew includes Sergei Volkov and Satoshi Furukawa.

    Under a new scheduled approved by the Space Station Control Board before the Soyuz 26 departure, they will be joined by newcomers Anatoly Ivanishin  Anton Shkaplerov, both of Russia, and Dan Burbank on Nov. 16. They will launch two days earlier from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan aboard the Soyuz 28.

    The Soyuz launchings have been on hold since the Aug. 24 loss of a Progress cargo capsule launched atop a Soyuz-U. The loss was blamed on a third stage propulsion system failure. The propulsion hardware is similar to the Soyuz-FG used to launch space station crews.

    The Soyuz 28 crew had been scheduled to dock with the station on Sept. 23.

    Until the Sept. 15 decision by station managers to resume Soyuz launchings on Nov. 14, it appeared the investigation might require the 15-nation international partnership to consider a temporary de-staffing of the outpost.

    An Oct. 30 launch of the Progress 45 mission will serve as a test flight.

    Station managers said the latest launch dates could face small schedule changes.

    Tags: os99, ISS, NASA, Roscosmos, JAXA

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