Spacecraft carrying Sunita Williams touches down

Indo Asian News Service

Moscow, Nov 19 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The Soyuz TMA−05M manned spacecraft touched down early Monday ending its three−and−a−half hour voyage to bring three International Space Station (ISS) crew members, including Sunita Williams, to Earth after 127 days in orbit.

The spacecraft carrying Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, NASA astronaut Sunita Williams and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide undocked from ISS at 2.26 a.m. Monday and landed on schedule northeast of the town of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan at 5.53 a.m.

A mission control spokesman said, citing the rescue team, that the crew's physical condition was "normal" after the landing.

Three planes, 12 helicopters and six rescue vehicles were deployed to the area to ensure a quick search and recovery of the returning crew from the landing capsule.

The crew will soon be evacuated from the re−entry capsule and after a health check in a mobile medical unit they will be flown by helicopter to an airfield in the Kazakh city of Karaganda and then to Moscow's Chkalovsky airfield.

During their mission, members of the ISS crew participated in one Russian spacewalk (Malenchenko and Gennady Padalka), two US spacewalks (Williams and Hoshide), works to undock Europe's ATV−3 space freighter, docking and undocking of the Dragon spacecraft and docking of the Soyuz−TMA−06M spacecraft.

More than 40 scientific experiments were conducted at the station during Malenchenko, Williams and Hoshide's stay in orbit.

The ISS team now lists Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin, as well as NASA astronaut Kevin Ford.

They will be joined by Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield and NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn, who are currently undergoing launch training near Moscow. They are scheduled to blast off onboard the Soyuz TMA−07M from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan Dec 19.

−−IANS/RIA Novosti