Expedition 13 and Ansari reture home

by Chris Bergin

The three person crew of Soyuz TMA-8 have landed in barren open space of Kazakhstan soon, ending the six month Expedition 13 for Russian commander Pavel Vinogradov, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams – and a short stay on board the International Space Station for space tourist Anousheh Ansari.

The successful landing was confirmed at 9:13pm EDT (2:13am UK time).

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‘Here they are, here they are,’ said an arriving ground crew member, who congratulated their successful landing, asking the crew to be careful as they started proceedures to release them from their Soyuz.

‘Well done on a successful flight, enjoy your rest,’ added a Russian controller on the loop to the crew.

Despite Ansari appearing to be a little worse for wear after leaving the Soyuz, NASA PAO on the spot Rob Navis confirmed all three crew members are in “excellent shape.”

They will return to Star City for three weeks of medical checks, before returning to their respective homes for a rest period.


According to today’s ISS On Orbit Status report, final preparations for departure earlier tonight of Soyuz TMA-8/12S were top priority today for all crewmembers. They had a busy day with final equipment packing, transfers, last handovers from Expedition 13 to Expedition 14, preparations for the undocking, and departure.

Packing included the eight experiments carried out by Ansari – the Iranian-born American business woman who paid $20m for the trip and stay on the orbital outpost.

With Soyuz TMA-8 then no longer available as emergency CRV (crew return vehicle) for the coming Increment, Expedition 14’s Mikhail Tyurin verified correct transfer of its three Emergency Procedures ODF (DAS EhP) books to the new CRV, TMA-9, currently at the Service Module (SM) aft port, but scheduled for relocation to the FGB nadir port on October 8.

NASA astronaut – and Expedition 14 commander – Mike Lopez-Alegria prepared for the Soyuz departure by closing the Lab science window shutters, while Expedition 14 science officer Mikhail Tyurin later powered down the ham radio equipment in SM and FGB to prevent RF interference with the departing spacecraft.

After Soyuz ingress of the returning E13+SFP crew, to be covered by NASA TV (see link at top of article) via Ku- and S-band, transfer hatches between 12S & the FGB were closed.

The return to Earth of the TMA-8/12S spacecraft with Pavel Vinogradov, Jeff Williams and Anousheh Ansari will proceed along the following approximate event sequence (all times EDT):

ISS attitude handover to RS — 2:40pm;

ISS manoeuvre to 12S undocking attitude — 5:20pm;

ISS in free drift — 5:49-5:58pm;

Hooks Open command — 5:50pm; automatic undocking from FGB on DO15

Separation springs action (delta-V ~0.12 m/sec) — 5:53pm; (retrograde to ISS flight)

Manual separation burn (15 sec, ~0.56 m/sec) — 5:56pm;

Deorbit Burn start (delta-V 115.2 m/sec) — 8:23:47pm;

Deorbit Burn complete — 8:28:08pm

Tri-Module separation (140.1 km) — 8:47pm;

Atmospheric entry (101.8 km, ~170 m/sec) — 8:50pm;

Max G-load — 8:57pm;

Parachute deploy command — 8:58:48pm;

ISS attitude control handed back to US — 9:10pm;

12S Landing (before daylight, nominally 89 km from Arkalyk) — 9:14pm EDT; 7:14am on 9/29 local Kustanai/Kazakhstan time;

Local Sunrise — 9:28pm (7:28am local on 9/29).

[Note: Kazakhstan time is GMT+6h; EDT+10h.]

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