Russian Soyuz TMA-1 Spaceship Lands With Russian and American Crew


by Eduard Puzyryov, RIA Novosti

Russian spotters carry a stretcher holding astronaut Donald Pettit to a search-and-rescue helicopter at the landing site of a capsule near the village of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan some 500 km (312 miles) from the Kazakh capital Astana, Sunday, May 4, 2003. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft safely delivered a three-man, U.S.-Russian crew to Earth on Sunday in the first landing following the Columbia space shuttle disaster, but ended up hundreds of kilometers (miles) short of its target and way out of reach of search-and-rescue helicopters.

Mikhail Grachyev, Pool / AP Photo

MISSION CONTROL CENTER (Korolyov, Moscow Region)–The spacemen of the long-time expedition returning from the international space station have landed north of the Aral Sea, 500 km away from the pre-set place of landing, the mission control center reports.

It was pointed out at the center that the An-12 aircraft, which had spotted them, could not land at the place of spaceship’s landing. So, helicopters with a team of rescuers and doctors on board flew to them. They are expected to arrive at the place of the spaceship’s landing at 10:18 a.m. Moscow time.

According to the information received from the rescue team, the cosmonauts feel well.

Two helicopters with rescuers and doctors have arrived at the place where the Soyuz TMA-1 spaceships landed Sunday in Kazakhstan. The spaceship had carried back to the Earth the crew of the 6th long-term expedition from the international space station – Russian cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin and U.S. astronauts Donald Pettit and Kenneth Bowersox. The news was told to a RIA Novosti correspondent by Sergei Puzanov, a representative of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Agency /NASA/ for relations with the media at the Russian Mission Control Center.

NASA chief Sean O’Keefe, who arrived in Moscow today, is in the Russian Mission Control Center and watches the landing and carrying of the ISS crew from Kazakhstan. For the time being, the NASA chief does not communicate with reporters, nor does he comment on the complexities involved in the spaceship’s landing. The crew of the 6th expedition of the international space station landed in the Soyuz TMA-1 spaceship north of the Aral Sea, 500 km away from the site originally set.

The space crew members did not wait for the arrival of the rescuers, who came four hours late, they opened the hatches of the spaceship and themselves came out of it. "At present they are waiting for the arrival of the third helicopter with a team of medicos from the Baikonur space center. The physicians will conduct a complete examination of their health," Puzanov said. "U.S. astronaut Michael Foale will arrive with the medicos."

As the spaceship landed not far from Baikonur, it has been decided to take the crew not to Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, but to the space center. From there they will be taken to the Chkalovsky airdrome near Moscow and then to the Star City. It is planned to take the crew there today.

The Caspas satellite navigational system was used in the search for the landed Soyuz TMA-1 spaceship, the Russian Federal Service for Search and Rescue of Spaceships and Space Vehicles informed.