ROSCOSMOS - Soyuz TMA-1M Mission patch.
May 13, 2014
The Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft landing in the sky of Kazakhstan
The Expedition 39 crew returned to Earth Tuesday after 188 days in space, completing a journey of over 79-million miles and more than 3,000 orbits of the Earth since launching to the International Space Station back in November.
The Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft carrying Expedition 39 Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Soyuz Commander Mikhail Tyurin of Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency and Flight Engineer Rick Mastracchio of NASA landed in the steppe of Kazakhstan southeast of Dzhezkazgan at 9:58 p.m. (7:58 a.m. Wednesday, Kazakh time). Helicopters carrying the Russian recovery teams and NASA personnel reached the landing site shortly afterward to assist the crew and conduct medical examinations.
Expedition 39 back on solid ground
Image above: The Expedition 39 crew adjusts to the full force of Earth's gravity shortly after landing in Kazakhstan aboard their Soyuz spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA TV.
The undocking marked the end of Expedition 39 and the start of Expedition 40 under the command of NASA astronaut Steve Swanson. Wakata, the first Japanese commander of the station, passed the helm of the orbiting complex over to Swanson during a change of command ceremony Monday afternoon. After making their final farewells, Wakata, Mastracchio and Tyurin boarded their Soyuz, and the crews closed the hatches between the vehicles at 3:26 p.m. Tuesday.
Image above: The Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft backs away from the International Space Station shortly after undocking. Image Credit: NASA TV.
Swanson and his crewmates, Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, will operate the station as a three-person crew for two weeks until the arrival of three new crew members -- Reid Wiseman of NASA, Max Suraev of Roscosmos and Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency. The trio of new flight engineers, who are wrapping up pre-flight activities in Star City, Russia, will fly to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Thursday to begin the homestretch of preparations for their May 28 launch to the station.
For more information about the International Space Station (ISS), visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
Images, Video, Text, Credit: NASA / NASA TV / ROSCOSMOS TV.