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ISS Crew Lands Safely In Soyuz Spacecraft

ISS Crew lands safely in Soyuz Spacecraft after parachute slows the craft.

ISS Crew lands safely in Soyuz Spacecraft after parachute slows the craft on Friday.

A crew of three from the International Space Station are safely back on Earth on Friday after travelling back in a Soyuz Spacecraft, leaving three astronauts at the ISS.

Soyuz commander Alexander Samokutyaev, Andrey Borisenko, and NASA flight engineer Ronald Garan have been at the station for nearly six months, and the flight caused some concerns when communications were lost just before the craft plunged into the Earth’s atmosphere. Flight controllers from Moscow made repeated calls, but they went unanswered, but no reason has been given for this blackout yet.

The Soyuz TMA-21 spacecraft landed safely in Kazakhstan and Russian recovery crews were on hand, as well as NASA flight surgeons and space station managers, to help the three astronauts out of the cramped spacecraft. The men all seemed relaxed and were smiling as they chatted with the recovery crews.

The three crew members remaining at the ISS were expected to have a new crew of three join them on 24 September, but this scheduled flight was changed after the Russian supply ship Progress which uses the Soyuz rockets exploded on 24 August. The supply ships are unmanned. It has now been determined that a kerosene fuel line blockage caused the problem, but it is not known how this will be resolved.

In order for the astronauts to return to Earth in daylight, they have to return to Earth by 22 November, or else they would violate Russian safety guidelines.

Right now the Russians are planning to launch another supply ship on 30 October, and the managers of the Russian program have said that if this goes well, the plan is to launch the Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft on 14 November. This would dock two days later, and deliver Shkaplerov, Ivanishin, and Burbank to the ISS.

Meanwhile plans are going ahead in case the ISS has to be left unmanned for an unknown period.

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Eric is an unashamed techno-geek (with an odd love of the outdoors) and one of the few people who can start a conversation in a roomful of similarly inclined techies and end up being the focal point for a crowd ... he also has the benefit of being able to speak and write in ways that are understandable to normal humans.

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