Soyuz Lands Safely in Kazakhstan

'Bulls-eye' landing for trio that oversaw first private spaceflight

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Jul 1, 2012 6:19 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Soyuz space capsule carrying a three-man multinational crew touched down safely today on the southern steppes of Kazakhstan, bringing an end to their 193-day mission to the International Space Station. Around a dozen recovery helicopters zeroed into the vast uncultivated land mass, where NASA astronaut Donald Pettit, Russia's Oleg Kononenko and Dutchman Andre Kuipers landed in the Russian-made capsule. Russian space officials quickly surrounded the craft, which performed a perfect upright textbook landing, and erected ladders to begin the process of pulling out the astronauts.

Commenting on the landing, NASA TV reporter Rob Navias called it "a bullseye." Kononenko was the first to be extracted from the descent module. He looked pale and tired, but medical staff announced him healthy. Pettit, second out of the module, was heard to say: "It's good to be home." Pettit and his colleagues were part of the team that handled the arrival to the space station last month of the privately owned SpaceX Dragon capsule.

The Soyuz TMA-03M space capsule carrying Donald Pettit, Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers undocking from the International Space Station early this morning July 1, 2012.   ((AP Photo/NASA))
A Russian Soyuz TMA-03M space capsule lands near the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Sunday, July 1, 2012, landing on the Kazakh steppe.   (Mikhail Metzel)
The Soyuz TMA-03M space capsule carrying Donald Pettit, Oleg Kononenko and Andre Kuipers undocking from the International Space Station early Sunday morning July 1, 2012.   ((AP Photo/NASA))
Support personnel carry Commander Oleg Kononenko, and Flight Engineers Andre Kuipers, and Don Pettit to the medical tent shortly after they landed in Kazakhstan, on Sunday, July 1, 2012.   (Bill Ingalls)
A Russian Soyuz TMA-03M space capsule lands near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Sunday, July 1, 2012.   (Mikhail Metzel)
A Russian Soyuz TMA-03M space capsule lands about 150 kms south-east of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Sunday, July 1, 2012.   (Mikhail Metzel)
Russian space agency rescue team carry Donald Pettit shortly after the landing of the Russian Soyuz TMA-03M space capsule in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Sunday, July 1, 2012.   (Mikhail Metzel)
The Soyuz lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Sunday, July 1, 2012.   (AP Photo/NASA, Bill Ingalls)
A Russian rescue team carries Donald Pettit shortly after the landing of the Soyuz space capsule south-east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, Sunday, July 1, 2012.   (AP Photo/Mikhail Metzel, pool)
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