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Expedition 34 Crew Lands Safely
Expedition 34 at landing site

Expedition 34 rests at the Kazakhstan landing site with the recovery crew and Soyuz TMA-06M behind them. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 34 hatch closing

Expedition 34 Soyuz Commander Oleg Novitskiy (center) says goodbye to the three station residents staying behind moments before closing the hatches. Credit: NASA TV

Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford and Flight Engineers Evgeny Tarelkin and Oleg Novitskiy landed their Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft in the steppe of Kazakhstan, northeast of the remote town of Arkalyk Friday at 11:06 p.m. EDT. Despite fog, low visibility and below freezing temperatures Russian recovery teams were on hand to help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after 144 days in space.

The trio launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-06M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in October and spent 142 days living and working aboard the International Space Station.

Novitskiy was at the controls of the spacecraft as it undocked at 7:43 p.m. from the Poisk Mini-Research Module 2.

The undocking marks the end of Expedition 34 and the start of Expedition 35 under the command of Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, who is scheduled to remain on the station with Flight Engineers Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko until May. Ford ceremonially handed command of the station over to Hadfield on Wednesday. Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko arrived at the station aboard the Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft in December 2012.

› Watch the change of command ceremony

Hadfield, Marshburn and Romanenko will remain aboard the orbiting complex as a three-person crew until the March 28 launch and docking of Expedition 35 Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy, Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin.

› Read more about Expedition 35