Thursday, April 9, 2009
Commander Mike Fincke and Flight Engineer Yury Lonchakov of the 18th International Space Station crew landed in Kazakhstan at 3:16 a.m. EDT Wednesday after about six months in space.
All three people aboard the Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft were reported to be in good condition after their re-entry and landing.
A Russian recovery team and NASA personnel reached the landing site by helicopter shortly after the Soyuz touched down. They helped the crew members into reclining chairs for medical tests and set up a medical tent nearby.
With Fincke and Lonchakov was spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi. He launched to the station March 26 with the Expedition 19 crew, Commander Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Michael Barratt, under contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata came to the station aboard space shuttle Discovery on its STS-119 mission, launched March 15. He served for the last part of Expedition 18 as a flight engineer. He remains aboard the station as a member of the Expedition 19 crew. Wakata is the first resident station crew member from JAXA.
Expedition 18 crew members undocked their Soyuz spacecraft from the station at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday. The deorbit burn to slow the Soyuz and begin its descent toward the Earth took place at 2:24 a.m. Wednesday.
When they landed, Fincke and Lonchakov had spent 178 days in space on their Expedition 18 flight, 176 of them on the station.
Fincke, a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, returned from his second stay at the space station. He previously served as flight engineer and NASA Space Station science officer on Expedition 9 in 2004. Lonchakov, a colonel in the Russian Air Force, completed his third trip to the station. He was a mission specialist on STS-100, which visited the orbital outpost in 2001, and he returned to the station in 2002 as part of the Soyuz TMA-1 crew.
› Read more about Expedition 19 › Read more about Expedition 18 › View crew timelines
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