Expedition 31 Sails Back to Earth
A Soyuz TMA-03M capsule descended to the steppes of Kazakhstan this morning at 4:14 a.m., returning Expedition 31 crew members Oleg Kononenko, Don Pettit and André Kuipers to Earth after 193 days working aboard the Space Station.
The dramatic photo above was captured by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls, showing the Soyuz vehicle as it parachuted down through the clouds.
More photos below…
Just a few hours earlier the Soyuz had undocked from the ISS, at 12:47 a.m. EDT. It began its deorbital burn a couple of hours after that.
NASA astronaut Doug Wheelock once said that coming back to Earth in a Soyuz is like “going over Niagara Falls in a barrel… and then someone lights the barrel on fire.” Luckily it looks like everyone is doing all right after this latest barrel trip… welcome home!
Follow news on the International Space Station teams and missions here.