ALMATY, Kazakhstan – A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three astronauts who lived six months on the International Space Station touched down safely, but one day late, Saturday morning in the cloudy central steppes of Kazakhstan.
The homecoming of American astronaut Tracy Caldwell-Dyson and Russia’s Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko had been delayed after technical glitches hindered the undocking of the spacecraft.
Caldwell-Dyson, who looked weary but joyous, spoke with colleagues by satellite phone after being lowered into her chair and wrapped in a blanket.
By contrast with the previous day’s attempt to depart the space station, undocking from the International Space Station was executed flawlessly and exactly on schedule.
The three astronauts remaining aboard the space station – Americans Doug Wheelock and Shannon Walker, and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin – pumped their fists with joy as they watched a report on the landing via a direct feed.
Russian cosmonauts Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka, along with NASA astronaut Scott J. Kelly, will join them after blasting off from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Oct. 8.
Space shuttle Discovery is set to lift off Nov. 1 for the International Space Station. Endeavour will follow in February to wrap up 30 years of shuttle flight.