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Home / Science / After the 197-day space mission, a three-man crew lands in Kazakhstan – Spaceflight Now

After the 197-day space mission, a three-man crew lands in Kazakhstan – Spaceflight Now


Astronaut of the European Space Agency Alexander Gerst leaves the Soyuz spacecraft MS-09 shortly after landing on Thursday. Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls

A Russian cosmonaut, a German flight engineer and a NASA astronaut broke away from the International Space Station on Wednesday and plummeted back to Earth. He landed in the snowy steppes of Kazakhstan to complete a six-month mission

Blocked by low clouds and windy snow in front of view, the spacecraft Soyuz MS-09 / 55S, suspended under a large orange-and-white parachute, crashed into the cold Steppe near the city of Dzhezkazgan at 12 o'clock. 02:00 EST (Thursday, GMT-5; 11:02 am local time), three and a half hours after leaving the space station.

Russian salvage teams and medical personnel, as well as support teams from the US and European Space Agency, hurried to the spaceship to help the returning crew members out of the narrow crew compartment as they began re-adapting to the unknown gravity training.

The Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev and the NASA physician astronaut Auñón-Chancellor committed 196 days 17 hours and 50 minutes from Earth, while the German astronaut Alexander Gerst, veteran of a previous stay on board the station in the year 2014, his total time increased to 362 days of cumulative time.

Asked what she was most looking forward to, the Auñón Chancellor said, "That's easy. Family. That's what you miss most here. "

" I do not think you'll ever really get used to it, "she said last month in an interview with CBS News. "They have memories, we have pictures, we get special videoconferences, but it's not like you're in the arms of your loved ones."

On her list behind the family "would be just the feelings of the earth," she said. "For example, the wind, the rain. Recently we watched a video and I remember being very jealous of seeing someone standing by the sea because I knew they could feel the wind and smell the sea. And we can not do that up here.

She wanted to "feel the earth immediately." The Soyuz landed in cold, cloudy conditions with temperatures in the single-digit range, a wind below zero, and up to a half meter of snow in the area.

How Common among Soyuz landings, crew members were transported to nearby lounge chairs bundled in blankets for first medical examinations and telephone calls at home to friends and family.

Alexander Gerst, Sergey Prokopyev and Serena Auñón-Chancellor lean back in sofas after Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls

It is expected that all three will be flown by helicopter to Dzhezkazgan for the official welcome ceremony, and Prokopyev then went back to Star City in New York Near Moscow, while Gerst drove to Cologne (Germany), Auñón-Chancellor is near the Johnson Space Center return home in Houston.

When asked what she would best miss on the station, Auñón-Chancellor said, "It sounds easy, but hovering everywhere is pretty impressive. "

" When you arrive up here, you're such an unsightly ballerina who can not do anything … but this is my favorite part, "she said, turning slowly to board the station," so you can do in three dimensions work, and you just know what your body up here can do, what you do not do on Earth. "

" I miss that most. Of course, it's beautiful to look outside and see the earth. But the way the human body adapts to be up here is amazing.

With the departure of the Soyuz MS-09 crew, expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne remained in orbit at McClain. They had originally expected to start aboard the station last week together with cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Nick Hague.

But Ovchinin and The Hague were the victims of a launch on October 11, the first for a Soyuz spacecraft since 1983. Instead of reaching the station When he joined Gerst, Prokopyev and Auñón-Chancellor, Ovchinin and Den Do an emergency landing near Dzhezkazgan and throw a wrench into the carefully planned crew rotation schedule.

Russian engineers have quickly attributed the problem to the system used to control the system Separating the four liquid-powered strap-on boosters that form the first stage of the Soyuz FG booster. One solution was relatively straightforward.

After reviewing several options, Russian managers decided to postpone Kononenko's crew from 20 December to 3 December and postpone the departure of Gerst and his teammates from 13 December to December. 20.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor smiles as she returns to Earth from the International Space Station on Thursday. Credit: NASA / Bill Ingalls

The Russian space agency Roscosmos rose in the episode on the next flight. Originally scheduled for the beginning of April, the mission was to have Russian commander Oleg Skripochka, NASA astronaut Christina Koch and a guest astronaut from the United Arab Emirates transported to the station.

Instead, Ovchinin and Hague will board aboard the Soyuz MS-12 / 58S spacecraft, launched into the station in late February. Until then, Kononenko Saint-Jacques and McClain will have the station to themselves.

In an interview with CBS News at his home in Houston, Hague said he has full confidence in the Soyuz security systems and is looking forward to fulfilling his mission.

"What we do up there every day on the space station is important," he said. "We try to open the eyes of humanity, to discover new things, to make life on the ground better, and to move further into the universe. This is a really important thing that benefits many people. You accept the risk because you believe in what you do.

His wife Catie agreed, but said that she was still nervous because her husband was going to launch a rocket into space.

"I was very nervous (during the October start) and I'm still nervous," she said. "There is a risk, there is a great deal of risk in what they do, and it's scary to be out of the search where you have absolutely no control. It is scary.

"But I trust him," she said. "I rely on his training, I implicitly trust his commander Alexey, and I know that everyone is really invested in their safety."

It was not just the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft that caused problems for the Russians. The Soyuz MS-09 ferry, which Prokopyev, Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor rely on for their return journey, had difficulties in August last year when sensors on board the station noted a slight drop in air pressure in the lab.

The leak was not serious enough to arouse the crew, but the next morning the four astronauts and two Cosmonauts of Expedition 56 tracked the leak to the upper "orbital" module of the Soyuz MS-09.

Photographs of the hole downlinked by the station crew showed what appeared to be a drilled penetration in an interior liner with several nearby grooves, such as those caused by a drill, prior to burrowing over a surface jumped.

The director Dmitry Rogozin of Roscosmos raised his eyebrows when he did not immediately exclude the station's crew members from potential suspects. He said, "It is a matter of honor for Energy Rocket and Space Corporation (Soyuz Builder RSC Energia) to find the person responsible to find out whether it is an accidental or deliberate spoilage and where this happened – either on earth or in space.

As expected, the station's then-commander, Drew Feustel, told the interviewers that his crew had nothing to do with the leak except clogging, and since then nobody has proposed the possibility of such involvement.

In any case, Prokopyev and the other cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev locked the hole with gauze soaked in epoxy at the direction of the Russian mission control center. The plug stopped, and the air traffic controllers later increased the air pressure in the cabin to normal levels.

The crew was never in danger, officials said, and a safe re-entry of the Soyuz probe MS-09 had never been called into question by the leak.

In a normal entry, the three modules of a Soyuz spacecraft – the upper orbital section, the crew compartment, and the lower drive module – separate just before they fall back into the perceptible atmosphere.

The top and bottom modules burn while the descent module, the only one protected by a heat shield, continues to be seated. For the Soyuz MS-09 boarding, the crew planned the usual practice by closing the hatch to the upper module before leaving the space station. Even if a leak re-opened, it would not affect the sealed descent module.

Nevertheless, Russian engineers still wanted to examine the exterior of the Soyuz orbital module to find out if the epoxy resin had made it all the way through the hole and to gather clues that might be available from the outside.

Accelerating Kononenko and his teammates to December 3 and delaying the departure of the Gerst crew, the Russians provided enough time for crewmembers to complete a spacewalk from Prokopyev and Kononenko to do just that.

The cosmonauts ventured outside the station on December 11, severing the isolation and micrometeoroid shields on the orbital, revealing the location of the leak. They collected samples of the extruded epoxy and any chemical traces on the hull near the hole, which are returned to Earth for laboratory analysis.

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