Touchdown! Soyuz Capsule Lands In Central Kazakhstan
Published 17 September 2012
A Russian Soyuz TMA-04M capsule with two Russians and an American onboard landed safely on the cloudless Kazakh steppe on September 17 after 123 days at the International Space Station (ISS). The Soyuz craft remains the only means for international astronauts to reach the space station following the decommissioning of the U.S. space shuttle in 2011. Moscow hopes the smooth landing will help to ease concerns over relying solely on Russia to service the space station following a string of mishaps in its space program.
One small steppe for man: The Soyuz capsule is captured at the moment of touchdown near the town of Arkalyk in central Kazakhstan on September 17.
Search-and-rescue teams approach the Soyuz capsule in the moments after touchdown. The Russian space program brings its capsules home on land, as opposed to the sea landings used by the U.S. Apollo program.
Search-and-rescue personnel surround the Soyuz capsule.
U.S. astronaut Joseph Acaba (left) and Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka (center) and Sergei Revin are shown crammed inside the tiny Soyuz capsule shortly after landing.
Padalka, who piloted the spacecraft back to Earth, was the first to be pulled out of the charred Soyuz capsule. Here, he signs his name on the side of the capsule, which will be displayed at the Tsiolkovsky
Museum in the town of Kaluga, southwest of Moscow.
Padalka sips a cup of tea shortly after landing. Padalka has now spent 711 days in space over four different missions, which ranks him fourth on the all-time list.
Revin smiles after being pulled from the Soyuz capsule.
Revin waves as he is carried away shortly after landing. The space travelers are placed on reclining chairs to ease their return to gravity.
Acaba gives the thumbs-up shortly after being removed from the capsule.
Acaba soaks up the sun shortly after he is removed from the Soyuz capsule. "It's good to be home," he said.
Acaba (left), Padalka (center) and Revin meet the press shortly after landing.
Revin is welcomed on his arrival to the city of Qostanai, the site of a forward base in northern Kazakhstan where the three were taken by helicopter.