Three Man Space Station Soyuz Crew Touches Down Safely in Kazakhstan

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Russia's 28 Soyuz mission spacecraft has touched down under parachute in remote Kazakhstan, bringing a safe conclusion to a 166-day flight to the International Space Station for NASA's Dan Burbank, the orbiting science lab's commander, and flight engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin.

The TMA-22 capsule descended north of Arkalyk in Kazakhstan, settling to the ground on target under sunny skies at 7:45 a.m., EDT, or 2:45 p.m., local time.

Helicopter-borne Russian recovery forces arrived within minutes to assist the three men, weakened by nearly six months in weightlessness, from their spacecraft.

The three fliers were reported in good health by spokeswoman Brandi Dean from NASA's Mission Control, which was following the descent.

The Soyuz capsule undocked from the space station at 4:18 a.m., EDT. The braking maneuver that dropped the transport out of orbit followed at 6:49 a.m.

With the end of the 30th expedition to the space station, command transfers from Burbank to Russian Oleg Kononenko.

Kononenko, American Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers, who boarded the station in late December, are scheduled to be joined in mid-May by the Soyuz 30 mission crew, Russians Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and NASA astronaut Joe Acaba.

Burbank Shkaplerov and Ivanishin carried out a series of upgrades to the station's U. S. and Russian computer hard- and software, including upgrades to NASA's science support network. They also served as subjects or operators in more than 180 multi-national research projects including human health, biology, biotechnology, combustion physics, Earth observations, astronomy and materials science.

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