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Expedition 23 Crew Lands in Kazakhstan
201006020001hq -- Soyuz TMA-17

Image above: The Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft approaches touchdown near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Expedition 23 Commander Oleg Kotov and Flight Engineers T.J. Creamer and Soichi Noguchi landed their Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan Tuesday, June 1, wrapping up a five-and-a-half-month stay aboard the International Space Station.

Kotov, the Soyuz commander, was at the controls of the spacecraft as it undocked at 8:04 p.m. EDT from the aft port on the station's Zvezda module. The crew landed at 11:25 p.m., east of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Russian recovery teams were on hand to help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after 163 days in space.

The trio launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 21, 2009. As members of the Expedition 22 and 23 crews, they spent 161 days on the station. They supported three space shuttle missions that delivered the U.S. Tranquility module and its cupola; put the finishing touches on U.S. laboratory research facilities; and attached the Russian Rassvet laboratory and storage module.

Kotov has logged 360 total days in space on his two missions, and Creamer has 163 days. Noguchi, who also flew on the STS-114 shuttle mission, has compiled 177 days in space.

The station is occupied by Expedition 24 Commander Alexander Skvortskov, who took command at 5 p.m. May 31, NASA Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson and Russian Flight Engineer Mikhail Kornienko, who arrived April 4.

A new trio of Expedition 24 flight engineers, Doug Wheelock, Shannon Walker and Fyodor Yurchikhin, will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 4:35 p.m. on June 15 (3:35 a.m. June 16 in Baikonur). They will join the crew when hatches between their Soyuz and the station are opened at 8:34 p.m. on June 17 (2:34 a.m. June 18 in Moscow).