Soyuz Landing Returns Russian Record Setter

by Mark Carreau
Sep 11, 2015

A multinational Soyuz crew, including a record setting Russian cosmonaut, descended to a parachute assisted landing in Central Kazakhstan late Friday, ending a 10 day round trip to the International Space Station for two of the three men.

The capsule was greeted by Russian helicopter borne recovery forces within minutes of touching down at 8:51 p.m., EDT, or Saturday at 6:51 a.m., local time, on the Kazakh steppes 90 miles southeast of Dzhezkazgan.

Among those returning to Earth was Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who closed out a 168-day ISS tour of duty that vaulted him to the lead among astronauts and cosmonauts for time accumulated in space.  The 57-year-old retired Russian Air Force colonel’s record 879 day career total was accumulated over five missions to the ISS and Russia’s former Mir space station, starting in 1998.

Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka sets new  record

for accumulates time in space.  NASA photo.

Padalka was accompanied on the TMA-16M’s descent by European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen and Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov, both first time space travelers.

Mogensen, Denmark’s first astronaut, and Aimbetov, the third native Kazakh space traveler, launched aboard Russia’s Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft with veteran Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov early Sept. 2 in support of ISS spacecraft and personnel exchanges.

With their docking at the ISS two days later, Volkov arrived to replace Padalka.

Padalka launched Mar. 27 with NASA’s Scott Kelly and fellow cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko aboard Russia’s Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft.

Kelly and Kornienko are nearing the midpoint of their planned 11 to 12 month ISS mission, serving as test subjects in experiments focused on the physical and mental changes that will accompany future long missions of deep space exploration.

An eight day docking period permitted Mogensen and Aimbetov to carry out a range of experiments for their respective space agencies, including Mogensen’s work with the remote control of robot rovers at the European Space Research and Technology Centre in The Netherlands.

Kelly succeeded Padalka as the ISS commander on Sept. 5.

The Soyuz TMA-18M that launched  Volkov, Mogensen and Aimbetov remains docked to the space station’s Russian segment serving as a newly certified life boat and ultimately transportation back to Earth for Volkov, Kelly and Kornienko next Mar. 3.

The Russian crew transports are certified for up 210 days of orbital operations.

With the undocking of the TMA-16M on Friday at 5:29 p.m., EDT, the ISS resumed six person operations as Expedition 45 with a U. S., Russian and Japanese crew.

Padalka, Mogensen and Aimbetov were to be flown from their landing site in separate helicopters to Astana, the Kazakh capital, for a greeting ceremony led by Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

After the ceremony, Padalka and Aimbetov were to be flown to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia.

Mogensen was to be flown to the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.


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