Soyuz TMA-7 – successful return

by Chris Bergin

Expedition 12’s Valery Tokarev and William McArthur – along with Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes – are safely back on Earth, after their Soyuz TMA-7 landed at 00:48 GMT.

The Russian spacecraft undocked from aft end port of the Zvezda module on the International Space Station (ISS) at 21:28 GMT, with the de-orbit burn at 23:58 GMT, starting their return back to firm ground.




Departure from the ISS

The three man crew of the Soyuz TMA-7 craft bid their farewells to the new occupants of the ISS, Pavel Vinogradov and Jeffrey Williams, earlier today, as they prepare their ship for the trip back to Earth, arriving somewhere near the Kazakh town of Arkalyk a few hours after departing the space station.

A fleet of helicopters and planes will search for their landing site, coming to the aid of the men, who will find themselves in freezing cold conditions in the local area.

Earlier – according to NASA/ISS on-orbit reports – preparations for Saturday’s departure moved into the home stretch when Tokarev dismantled and removed the LKT local temperature sensor commutator (TA251MB) of the BITS2-12 onboard telemetry system from the 11S descent module, along with its PZU-1M (ROM, read-only memory) unit, now no longer required and to be reused in future vehicles.

The Expedition 12 crew and Pontes had three hours set aside to conduct the Soyuz descent training exercise, standard procedure for each crew returning on a Soyuz.

The exercise, which strictly forbids any command activation (except for switching the InPU display), was supported by a tagup and discussions with a ground instructor at TsUP/Moscow via S-band.

Afterwards, CDR-13 Pavel Vinogradov dismantled the two ‘Klest’ (KL-152) TV cameras and their light units in the Soyuz TMA-8/12S Descent Module for return to the ground on 11S.

Valery Tokarev completed the first 90 minutes part of his final training session in the ‘Chibis’ ODNT suit as standard preparation of cosmonauts for returning into gravity (the second part is scheduled for tomorrow).

Since it was outside an RGS (Russian ground site) comm window, with no telemetry downlink, his vital body readings were again obtained with the Tensoplus sphygmomanometer. A tagup/calldown with ground specialists via US S-band supported the run, which was assisted by CDR-12 McArthur.


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