Russia's 28 Soyuz mission spacecraft completed a 4 1/2 minute braking maneuver early Friday, initiating the capsule's descent into Central Asia with American Dan Burbank and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin. The three men are headed back to Earth after a near 166 day mission to the International Space Station.
Their TMA-22 capsule will aim for a landing under parachute in Kazakhstan, northeast of Arkalyk. Helicopter-borne, Russian recovery forces are positioned throughout the landing zone to assist with the extraction of the three men from their capsule. Touchdown is expected at 7:45 a.m, EDT. Two Russian aircraft were serving as airborne command centers for communications between the Soyuz crew and Russia's Mission Control.
Their Soyuz spacecraft undocked from the space station's Poisk module at 4:18 a.m., EDT, formally ending the 30th expedition to the orbiting science laboratory. The 4 minute, 18 second braking maneuver followed at 6:49 a.m.
With the departure, command of the station transitioned from Burbank to Russian Oleg Kononenko. Kononenko, American Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers are scheduled to be joined in mid-May by three replacements, Russians Gennady Padalka and Sergei Revin and American Joe Acaba.