The Soyuz TMA-22 spacecraft carrying Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin fired its deorbit engines at 6:49 a.m. EDT and is now heading home. The trio undocked from the International Space Station at 4:18 a.m. ending Expedition 30. The home-bound trio is scheduled to land in Kazakhstan at 7:45 a.m.
The Soyuz descent module carrying the crew will separate from the rest of the Russian spacecraft and enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Afterwards, the Soyuz will deploy several parachutes slowing its descent and then fire three small engines to soften its landing in the steppe of Kazakhstan.
After the returning Expedition 30 crew members land they will be extracted from the Soyuz by support personnel and monitored by flight surgeons.
Expedition 31 began when Burbank, Shkaplerov and Ivanishin undocked from the station. Commander Oleg Kononenko and Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will continue their stay aboard the orbital laboratory until July 1. Scheduled to join them in mid-May are Flight Engineers Gennady Padalka, Joe Acaba and Sergei Revin who will launch and arrive in the Soyuz TMA-04M spacecraft.
The new crewmates are completing their mission training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia. They will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on May 15, and plan to stay in space until Sept. 17.
UPDATE: Space Station Trio Lands Safely In Kazakhstan
PHOTO CREDIT: NASA