Aviation News

September 19, 2012

Soyuz Returns to Earth After Mission to International Space Station

Expedition 32 NASA Flight Engineer Joe Acaba signs the side of his Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft shortly after he landed with his Expedition 32 crewmates. (Photo by NASA/Carla Cioffi)
Expedition 32 NASA Flight Engineer Joe Acaba signs the side of his Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft shortly after he landed with his Expedition 32 crewmates. (Photo by NASA/Carla Cioffi)
Three crew members from the United States and Russia landed safely aboard the Soyuz spacecraft in the central steppe of Kazakhstan early Monday morning, wrapping up a four-month-long mission to the International Space Station (ISS), officials said.

The spacecraft undocked from the ISS at 2309 GMT on Sunday and landed northeast of Arkalyk, located in Kazakhstan’s Kostanay province, at 8:43 am.local time (0243 GMT) on Monday. The Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft was carrying American flight engineer Joe Acaba of NASA, Russian commander Gennady Padalka and Russian flight engineer Sergei Revin, both from the Russian Federal Space Agency.

The trio arrived at the ISS on May 17 and spent 125 days in space, of which 123 days were aboard the orbiting laboratory. Padalka now ranks fourth for the most days spent in space, a total of 711 days during four flights. Acaba, Padalka and Revin orbited Earth 2,000 times and traveled 52,906,428 miles (85,144,643 kilometers) during their four-month-long stay.

After the Soyuz spacecraft separated from the ISS on late Sunday, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams took command of Expedition 33, making her the second woman to command the station. She and her crewmates, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, will work aboard the station as a three-person crew until the arrival of three new crew members in mid-October.