Soyuz TMA-2/6S Lands On Target

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The Soyuz TMA-2/6S spacecraft landed safely in Kazakhstan this evening at 9:41 pm EST. Unlike the previous Soyuz landing which left the Expedition 6 crew 440 km (275 miles) short of their planned landing target and out of communication with mission control for 2 hours, this landing went off without a hitch.

The Soyuz spacecraft that is carrying Expedition 7 Commander Yuri Malenchenko and NASA ISS Science Officer Ed Lu and ESA astronaut Pedro Duque, undocked from the Station at 6:17 pm EST today, bringing Expedition 7's six-month mission to an end.

Earlier today Malenchenko officially handed over control of the International Space Station to Expedition 8 Commander Michael Foale. The handover occurred as the hatches between the Station and the Soyuz TMA-2/6S spacecraft were closed at 3:14 pm EST. Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri will spend the next six months maintaining ISS systems and overseeing science experiments.

Had the Soyuz spacecraft landed off target or lost communication, the crew would have been able to communicate with Mission Control by using two items added to Soyuz equipment inventory after the Soyuz landing last May: a GPS receiver and a satellite phone (see Soyuz Crew: 'Phone Home')

The trip home in a Soyuz is different than coming home on a Space Shuttle according to Expedition 6 astronaut Ken Bowersox who spoke with the media today. Whereas a ride home on the Shuttle can take several days, with a gentle G-load, a Soyuz ride gets you home in a few hours and exposes the crew to higher G-Forces (see "What will the Soyuz TMA-2/6S crew encounter during reentry/descent?" for a description of what a Soyuz descent is like).


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