April 9th, 2009 in Breaking News, Space

NASA astronaut returns to earth aboard Russian Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft

Space station crew lands in Soyuz after successful mission.

The Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft, carrying NASA astronaut Michael Fincke, Expedition 18 commander; cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov, flight engineer and Soyuz commander; and U.S. spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi, lands on April 8, 2009, near Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Fincke and Lonchakov return after spending six months on the International Space Station, and Simonyi is returning from his launch with the Expedition 19 crewmembers twelve days earlier. Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

SINGAPORE, 9 APRIL 2009 — Two members of the 18th crew to live and work aboard the International Space Station and a spaceflight participant returned to Earth on Wednesday (8 April), said the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

According to the space agency, NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov and spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi safely landed their Soyuz spacecraft in the steppes of southern Kazakhstan.

Fincke commanded the Expedition 18 mission, which saw the station go to full power and begin water supply recycling, said NASA. He spent 178 days in orbit on this flight and has accumulated a full year in space during his career.

Lonchakov completed his first long-duration spaceflight. He spent nearly 12 days aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2001. Simonyi, an American, spent 11 days on the station under a commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency. He is the only spaceflight participant to visit the station twice.

The Expedition 18 crew worked with a variety of experiments, including human life sciences, physical sciences and Earth observation, said NASA.

Before undocking, Fincke and Lonchakov bid farewell to the new station crew, Expedition 19 commander Gennady Padalka and flight engineer Mike Barratt, who launched to the station on a Soyuz on 26 March.


Space station crew lands in Soyuz after successful mission