Soyuz Space Capsule Lands Safely

A Russian space capsule touched down on the steppes of Kazakhstan in Central Asia on

April 27, safely returning a joint U.S.-Russian crew to Earth after months aboard the International Space Station. The Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft landed at 7:45 a.m. EDT (1145 GMT), less than four hours after undocking from the space station. Riding home aboard the space capsule were NASA astronaut Dan Burbank and Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin, who were reintroduced to the strong tug of Earth’s gravity after spending 165 days, or nearly 5 1/2 months, in orbit. For Burbank, who commanded the Expedition 30 mission, returning to Earth was bittersweet. He said he loved his time in space but was ready to come home and be with his family again. Burbank also took some time to thank the many people who built the International Space Station (ISS), as well as the mission controllers around the world who watch over him and the other denizens of the $100 billion orbiting outpost. The station will have a skeleton crew of three for a few weeks. Kononenko, American astronaut Don Pettit and Dutch spaceflyer Andre Kuipers will have the huge complex to themselves until May 17, when the three remaining members of Expedition 31 are due to come aboard. However, there should be quite a bit of excitement on the station before those three, NASA’s Joe Acaba and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin, float through the hatch. The private spaceflight firm SpaceX is due to launch its unmanned Dragon capsule on a demonstration mission to the orbiting lab on May 7.