Expedition 36 crew return from the space station
Sen—Three members of the space station's crew have returned safely to Earth. Pavel Vinogradov, Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin landed their Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 2.58 (GMT) this morning (8:58 a.m local Kazakhstan time).
The three astronauts spent almost six months aboard the space station, having arrived on March 28. During their 166 day stint they completed 2,656 orbits of Earth.
Pavel Vinogradov has now spent 547 days in space, putting him tenth on the all-time endurance list. During his latest stay in space Vinogradov conducted a spacewalk, the seventh of his career, taking his total time spacewalking to 38 hours, 25 minutes.
Chris Cassidy conducted three spacewalks during Expedition 36. This was his second time in space, where he has now spent 182 days. This was Alexander Misurkin's first time in space, during which he carried out three spacewalks.
The undocking of the Soyuz crewship marked the beginning of Expedition 37 aboard the ISS, with space station command having been transferred from Vinogradov to Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin on Monday September 9.
The Expedition 36 crew shortly after landing
Remaining aboard the orbiting outpost with Commander Yurchikhin are NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and the European Space Agency’s Luca Parmitano.
Expedition 37 is Yurchikhin's second stint as an ISS commander. The cosmonaut, aged 54, first flew in space aboard the space shuttle -- STS-112 -- in October 2002. He also commanded the space station ISS Expedition 15 crew in 2007. Yurchikhin's third time in space was as a flight engineer with the ISS Expedition 24/25 crew between June and November 2010.
Karen Nyberg first flew in space aboard the shuttle -- STS-124 -- in 2008, whilst Parmitano, who is an experienced pilot and major in the Italian Air Force, is enjoying his first time in space. Parmitano was selected as an ESA astronaut in 2009 and recently became the first Italian to spacewalk.
Preparing to join the Expedition 37 crew are Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins. They are due to launch in their Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kasakhstan on September 25. They will dock with the ISS just six hours -- four orbits -- after launch.
Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano arrived on May 28 and will return to Earth in November.
Expedition 37 crew. From left to right: Karen Nyberg, Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano, Michael Hopkins, Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy. Credit: NASA