Three space station crewmembers land after 166-day mission
Tuesday, September 10, 2013 - 00:51
Sept. 11 - Two Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut land after 166-day mission in the International Space Station. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
STORY: Two Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut left the International Space Station on Tuesday (September 10th), leaving a skeleton crew to maintain the outpost until replacements arrive later this month.
Outgoing station commander Pavel Vinogradov, NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin bid their crewmates good-bye and climbed aboard their Russian Soyuz capsule to prepare for a 3.5-hour flight back to Earth after 166 days in orbit.
Before leaving, Vinogradov, a veteran of three spaceflights, transferred command of the $100 billion station, a project of 15 nations, to fellow cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, who remains aboard with Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano and NASA's Karen Nyberg.
Strapped inside their Soyuz capsule, Vinogradov, Cassidy and Misurkin pulled away from the station's Poisk module at 7:35 p.m. EDT/1135 GMT as the two ships sailed 258 miles above Mongolia, said NASA mission commentator Brandi Dean.
Three hours later, the Soyuz hit the top of Earth's atmosphere, giving the men their first sampling of gravity since their launch on March 28.
The final leg of the journey took place under parachutes, with the capsule finally coming to a stop on the steppes of Kazakhstan at 10:58 p.m. EDT/0258 GMT, marking the end of the Expedition 36 mission.
The space station has been continuously staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.
Following medical checks, Vinogradov and Misurkin will be flown to Star City near Moscow. Cassidy will fly on a NASA jet back to the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
A replacement space station crew, headed by veteran cosmonaut Oleg Kotov and including rookies Sergey Ryazanskiy and Michael Hopkins, is due to launch on September 25.
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