Canada’s first space mission command came to a successful close late May 13, as a Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying Canada’s Chris Hadfield, U.S. astronaut Tom Marshburn and cosmonaut Roman Romanenko departed the International Space Station and descended safely to Earth.
Their TMA-07M capsule landed under parachute in southern Kazakhstan at 9:31 p.m. EDT, or May 14 at 8:31 a.m. local time, ending a 146-day mission.
The flight featured work on nearly 140 experiments and technology demonstrations; an overhaul of the station’s Ku-band communications system; cargo deliveries by U.S. commercial and Russian resupply craft; a scheduled Russian spacewalk; and finally a rapidly organized U.S. spacewalk two days before their departure to repair a thermal control system ammonia leak.
Throughout Hadfield’s nearly five months in orbit, the retired 53-year-old Canadian air force colonel exhibited his musical talents and skills as a photographer and with social media to share his experiences. His unusual emphasis on public outreach earned him special praise from his fellow Canadians as he prepared to return to Earth.
“Your efforts have fueled a new appreciation for what the challenges of space exploration have to offer our planet,” noted fellow Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen. “Your leadership has been an example to all of us, and your extraordinary efforts to share space with us have inspired us to look back upon our planet with a new perspective and respect.”
A veteran of two previous space shuttle missions, Hadfield was only the second non-American or non-Russian to command the station. European Space Agency cosmonaut Frank DeWynne of Belgium became the first as commander of Expedition 21 in October-November 2009.
astronaut Koichi Wakata is in training to command Expedition 39 from March to May 2014, to complete an initial delegation of command responsibilities among all the major ISS partners. Wakata is scheduled to launch in November with U.S. and Russian astronauts aboard the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft.
Hadfield’s Expedition 35 leadership, which spanned 60 days, ended formally as the TMA-07M capsule undocked at 7:08 p.m. with the transfer of responsibility for the six-person orbiting lab to Expedition 36 commander Pavel Vinogradov, a veteran cosmonaut.
Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko were joined within minutes of their touchdown southeast of Dzhezkazgan by Russian recovery forces traveling via helicopter. The fliers were assisted out of the capsule and examined by flight surgeons, then flown to Karaganda in northern Kazakhstan.
In Karaganda, Hadfield and Marshburn boarded ajet for Houston and ’s . Romanenko headed for Star City, Russia, to rejoin family and the cosmonaut corps.
The Vinogradov-led Expedition 36 crew that includes U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin is scheduled to be joined May 28 by U.S. European and Russian crewmembers Karen Nyberg, Luca Parmitano and Fyodor Yurchikhin.
Their Soyuz TMA-09M transport is scheduled to undertake the second consecutive “express” 6-hr. transit from launch to docking.
Hadfield was selected by the Canadian Space Agency for astronaut training in 1992. His first spaceflight, a 1995 shuttle mission, provided a U.S. docking module to Russia’s former Mir space station. His second, a 2001 shuttle flight, delivered the Canadarm2 to the ISS.