Russian spacecraft lands safely after delay

25th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Russian Soyuz capsule carrying three crew landed safely from the International Space Station Saturday, mission control said, after delays in undocking kept the astronauts an extra day in orbit.

"The landing was without incident. The crew feels normal," a spokesman for the Russian mission control centre near Moscow said.

Russian space agency Roskosmos said the craft carrying US astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko had landed on time at 9:23 am time (0523 GMT) in the Kazakh steppes.

The first television images showed the three-member crew still onboard the space station, pumping their fists and cheering the safe landing.

Mission commander Skvortsov was the first to be helped out of the capsule and wrapped in a blue thermal blanket after the arduous flight. Grinning widely, he bit into an apple, waved and flashed an okay sign to cameras.

NASA astronaut Dyson was shown speaking to loved ones by satellite phone immediately after disembarking from the Soyuz at the landing site, about 35 kilometres (20 miles) from the remote central Kazakh town Arkalyk.

The astronauts had been scheduled to make their drop to Earth on Friday but the descent was delayed 24 hours after the Soyuz craft failed to undock for the first time in a decade of ISS flights.

Crew members were forced to add an extra day to over six months in orbit over fears that the capsule was not fully airlocked after a computer malfunction.

© 2010 AFP

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