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 from Low clouds and windswept snow, the Soyuz spacecraft MS-09 / 55S glanced under a large orange-and-white parachute in the cold steppe near the city of Dzhezkazgan at 12:02 (EST) Local time), three and a half hours after leaving the space station.
Russian salvage crews and medical personnel as well as US and European space aid teams hurried to the spaceship to facilitate the return of crew members from the narrow crew area as they began re-adapting to the unfamiliar tug of gravity.
Soyuz Commander Sergey Prokopyev and NASA Physician Astronaut Auñón-Chancellor recorded 1
"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."
Second on her list behind the family "would be just the feelings of the earth," she said. "For example, the wind, the rain, we recently 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 we can not do this up here. "
She had a desire 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 half a meter of snow in the area.
As is customary with Soyuz landings, crew members were transported to nearby lounge chairs bundled in blankets for initial medical examinations and telephone calls with friends and family.
It is expected that all three will be flown by helicopter to Dzhezkazgan for an official welcome ceremony. Prokopyev then went back to Star City near Moscow, while Gerst went to Cologne (Germany). Auñón-Chancellor will return home near the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
When asked what she would best miss on board the station, Auñón-Chancellor said, "It sounds easy, but hovering everywhere is pretty impressive."
"When you get up here, you are a kind of unsightly ballerina who can not do anything … but this is my favorite part, "she said and slowly turned aboard the station. "You can work in three dimensions, and you can easily see what your body can reach up here, which you just can not do on Earth."
"That's what I miss 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, with the cosmonaut, last week Alexey Ovchinin and Nick Hague start aboard the station.
But Ovchinin and The Hague were victims of a crash on October 11 the first for a Soyuz probe. Instead of reaching the station and joining Gerst, Prokopyev and Auñón-Chancellor, Ovchinin and The Hague had in the Make an emergency landing near Dzhezkazgan and throw a wrench into the carefully planned crew rotation schedule.
Problem with the system to control the separation of the four liquid-operated strap-on boosters that make up the first stage of the Soyuz FG Booster. One solution was relatively simple.
After reviewing several options, the Russian managers decided to postpone the Kononenko occupation from December 20 to December 3 and postpone the departure of Gerst and his teammates from December 13 to December 20.
Roscosmos, The Russian Space Agency has subsequently postponed 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 The 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 better on the ground, and to move further into the universe, which is a really important thing to do, and it benefits so many people. They accept the risk because they believe in what you are doing. "
His wife Catie agreed, but said she was still nervous about the idea that her husband would launch a rocket into space.
"I was very nervous (during the launch in October.)) And I'm still nervous," she said. "There's a risk, there's a big risk in what they do, and it's scary to be out of search, where you have absolutely no control, it's scary."
"But I trust him." she said "I trust his training, I trust implicitly in his commander Alexey, and I know that everyone is really invested in their safety."
It was not just the Soyuz probe MS-10 that troubled the Russians, the Soyuz -MS 09 The ferry that Prokopyev, Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor depend on for their return journey had difficulties in August last year when sensors on board the station noted a slight drop in air pressureLeaks were not considered serious enough The next morning, the four astronauts and two cosmonauts of expedition 56 tracked the leak to the upper "orbital" module of the Soyuz probe MS-09.
The hole formed by the S was downed, showed that it was a drillout penetrating an interior wall with several nearby notches, such as those caused by a drill that bounces over a surface prior to burial.
Dmitry Rogozin, director 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 defect or a deliberate spoil and where this happened – either on Earth or in space. "
As expected, Ward Station commander Drew Feustel told the interviewers that his crew had nothing to do with the leak other than joining them, and no one has since suggested the possibility of such involvement.
Prokopyev and co-cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev, in any case, closed the hole with epoxied gauze at the direction of the Russian mission control center. The plug stopped, and the air traffic controllers raised the air pressure in the cab 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 falling back into the perceptible atmosphere. 19659003] 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 on the outside.
By pushing the Kononenko and his teammates through to December 3 and delaying the departure of the barley crew, the Russians provided ample time for crew members to make a spacewalk from Prokopyev and Kononenko to do just that.
Cosmonauts ventured outside the station on December 11, severing the isolation and micrometeoroid shields on the orbital, exposing 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.