Completing more than six months in space, the International Space Station Expedition 8 crew, Commander Mike Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri, returned to Earth today, bringing with them European Space Agency Astronaut Andre Kuipers of the Netherlands, who had spent nine days aboard the complex conducting research.
After a flawless descent aboard the ISS Soyuz 7 spacecraft, Foale, Kaleri and Kuipers landed on target in north-central Kazakstan, about 43 miles (70 kilometers) northwest of the town of Arkalyk, at 7:12 p.m. CDT. Recovery forces arrived at the site within moments of the touchdown.
Foale and Kaleri spent 194 days, 18 hours and 35 minutes in space, the second longest expedition to be completed aboard the Station. They launched on Oct. 18, 2003, on the same Soyuz spacecraft that brought them home. In addition to scientific experiments aboard the Station, in February Foale and Kaleri conducted the first spacewalk ever performed from the complex by a two-person crew.
With the completion of this flight, Foale has accumulated more time in space than any U.S. astronaut. On this mission, a 1997 flight to the Russian Mir Space Station, and four Space Shuttle missions, Foale has amassed a total of 374 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes in space.
Foale, Kaleri and Kuipers will travel to Star City, Russia, where they will remain for mission debriefings and medical activities. Foale is expected to return to Houston in mid-May.
Aboard the Station, the Expedition 9 crew, Commander Gennady Padalka and NASA Station Science Officer Mike Fincke, are beginning a six-month mission that will include three spacewalks. Expedition 9 is scheduled to return to Earth Oct. 21. Padalka and Fincke will have light duty for the next three days as they rest after completing the busy handover period of joint operations between the two crews.
Information on the crew's activities aboard the Space Station, future launch dates, as well as Station sighting opportunities from anywhere on the Earth, is available on the Internet at:
Details on Station science operations can be found on an Internet site administered by the Payload Operations Center at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., at:
The next ISS status report will be issued on Friday, May 7, or earlier if events warrant.
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