Two Americans and a Russian have landed safely in Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft after a 5-1/2 month stay at the International Space Station (ISS).
The crew members of Expedition 25, the twenty-fifth long-duration mission to the ISS, landed in Kazakhstan at 11:46 p.m. EST Thursday. The trio -- Doug Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Soyuz Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin -- undocked in the Soyuz TMA-19 at 8:23 p.m.
Wheelock has spent 178 days in space on his two missions and Walker spent 163 days in space on this, her first mission. Each spent 161 days aboard the station as members of Expedition 24/25. Meanwhile, Commander Yurchikhin has logged 371 total days in space.
The trio launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on June 15. During their mission, the Expedition 24 and 25 crew members worked on more than 120 microgravity experiments in human research; biology and biotechnology; physical and materials sciences; technology development; and Earth and space sciences.
The astronauts also responded to an emergency shutdown of half of the station's external cooling system and supported three unplanned spacewalks by Wheelock and Expedition 24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson to replace the faulty pump module that caused the shutdown.
Yurchikhin will return to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, outside of Moscow, while Wheelock and Walker will fly home to Houston directly.
Meanwhile, the space station is occupied by Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka of the Russian Federal Space Agency.
A new trio of Expedition 26 flight engineers, NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency, will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 15. They will dock with the space station and join its crew on Dec. 17.