Soyuz Capsule Lands Space Station Crew Safely
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield (far left), Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko (center) and NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn (right) hold hands during a photo op shortly after landing in Kazakhstan.
During the second NASA-contracted SpaceX Dragon cargo run to the International Space Station (ISS) Sunday morning (March 3, 2013), Canadian astronaut, soon-to-be ISS commander and hugely popular orbital Twitter user Chris Hadfield kept tabs on the Dragon berthing. Here are the stunning views he captured during the successful capture. Here, the Dragon capsule is grappled by the station's robotic arm -- an instrument designed and built by MDA Space Missions for the Canadian Space Agency. "Tonight's Finale: A Dragon, snared and tamed by Canadarm2. Saint George ringing in a new era in the silence of space," Hadfield tweeted. Here are some more views shared by Hadfield with the world via his Twitter account, @Cmdr_Hadfield.
The Canadarm2 awaits the arrival of the Dragon capsule. The robotic arm is the primary component of the space station's Mobile Servicing System (MSS) that was installed in 2001. The Canadarm2 provides support to astronauts on board the station -- berthing spacecraft, providing maintenance services and moving equipment around the station's exterior. "Canadarm2, proud builder of the International Space Station, in preparation for the successful grabbing of a Dragon," tweeted Hadfield.
"Dragon comes into view - first sight this morning, sneaking up on us from behind the Progress solar array," tweeted Hadfield, referring to one of the solar panels of the docked Russian Progress cargo vehicle.
"Self-portrait in the Cupola with rising Dragon below, Africa behind."
As the Dragon approached the space station, there were plenty of photo ops for the astronauts. "The Dragon spaceship high over Mount Etna - both spitting fire," said Hadfield as the spacecraft passed over the east coast of Sicily, Italy.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft over the Sahara Desert before space station berthing on March 3, 2013.
"Like a Praying Mantis, Canadarm2 poised to reach out and grab Dragon."
"Success! Canadarm2 holds Dragon by the nose, to drag it up and hook it on to a Station hatch," said Hadfield via his Twitter account when the Dragon was snared at 5:31 am EST Sunday morning.
A Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying a crew of three space travelers successfully touched down on the Central Asian steppes of Kazakhstan tonight, wrapping up a five-month mission to the International Space Station.
Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko landed in their Soyuz capsule tonight (May 13) at about 10:31 p.m. EDT (0231 May 14 GMT), though it was early Tuesday local time at the landing site.
"Boy, that was quite a ride home," Hadfield said once on the ground.
Marshburn, Hadfield and Romanenko's Earth return marks the end of the station's Expedition 35, which Hadfield commanded, and the start of Expedition 36. The landing comes just two days after Marshburn and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy performed an unprecedented emergency spacewalk to fix a serious ammonia coolant leak on the outside of the station.
The trio orbited the Earth 2,300 times and logged 61 million miles (98 million kilometers) during the veteran crew's 144 days on the station. Romanenko, Hadfield and Marshburn also witnessed the arrival and departure of several unmanned cargo ships including SpaceX's Dragon capsule in March.
"It's beautiful," Romanenko radioed right before landing. "It's morning here."
Hadfield was the first Canadian commander of the space station and he shared his unique perspective on the planet with everyone back on Earth during his time on the orbiting outpost. The astronaut beamed back videos of his meals, views and other aspects of his life in space including a music video cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" sung as a goodbye to his space-based home.
Earlier today, Hadfield sent down his last photo from on board the $100 billion laboratory.
"Spaceflight finale: To some this may look like a sunset," wrote Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) on Twitter. "But it's a new dawn."
The returning station crew left behind two cosmonauts and one astronaut to watch over the space station in their stead, but they won't be alone for long. Cassidy, Russian cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin will be joined by European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, NASA's Karen Nyberg and Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin when they fly up to the station at the end of the month.
NASA has relied on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to shuttle the space agency's astronauts to and from the space station since the end of the shuttle program in 2011. NASA officials eventually hope to use private crewed spaceships to bring people to and from the orbiting laboratory.
The International Space Station is the size of a five-bedroom house and was constructed by five different space agencies representing 15 different countries. Construction began in 1998 and since 2000 the station has been occupied continuously by crews of cosmonauts and astronauts.
More from SPACE.com:
Commander Chris Hadfield & Expedition 35 Crewmates Touchdown In Kazakhastan | Video
Soyuz Landing Photos: Space Station's Expedition 35 Crew
Space Station's Expedition 35 Mission in Photos
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