Spaceflight Now Home



Spaceflight Now +



Subscribe to Spaceflight Now Plus for access to our extensive video collections!
How do I sign up?
Video archive

Two shuttles sighted

Stunning aerial views of shuttles Atlantis and Endeavour perched atop launch pads 39A and 39B on Sept. 20.

 Play | Hi-Def

Endeavour to the VAB

For its role as a rescue craft during the Hubble servicing mission and the scheduled November logistics run to the space station, Endeavour is moved to the Vehicle Assembly Building.

 Play

STS-125: The mission

A detailed step-by-step preview of space shuttle Atlantis' STS-125 mission to extend the life and vision of the Hubble Space Telescope.

 Play

STS-125: The EVAs

The lead spacewalk officer provides indepth explanations of the five EVAs to service Hubble during Atlantis' flight.

 Play

STS-125: The crew

The seven shuttle Atlantis astronauts hold a press conference one month before their planned launch to Hubble.

 Play

STS-125: NASA leaders

The leaders of NASA's Space Operations and Science directorates give their insights into the upcoming shuttle mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

 Play

STS-125: Shuttle boss

The head of NASA's space shuttle program discusses the risks and plans for Atlantis' trek to Hubble.

 Play

The Hubble program

An overview of the Hubble Space Telescope program and the planning that has gone into the final servicing mission.

 Play

Hubble's future science

The new instruments to be installed into Hubble and the future science objectives for the observatory are previewed.

 Play

Atlantis on the pad

Shuttle Atlantis makes the slow journey from the Vehicle Assembly Building to launch pad 39A for the STS-125 mission to service Hubble.

 Play

Meet the Hubble crew

Meet the crew launching on Atlantis' STS-125 mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope and learn how each became an astronaut in this special biography movie.

 Play

Become a subscriber
More video




BY JUSTIN RAY

Follow the entry and landing of the space station's Expedition 17 crew. Reload this page for the very latest on the mission.

0430 GMT (12:30 a.m. EDT)

See our landing story.

0401 GMT (12:01 a.m. EDT)

And now flight engineer Oleg Kononenko is outside and seated in the reclining chairs set up around the spacecraft.

0353 GMT (11:53 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Richard Garriott has been assisted out of the Soyuz now.

0351 GMT (11:51 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

The recovery forces have already landed next to the Soyuz and gotten commander Sergei Volkov out of the capsule.

0338 GMT (11:38 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

LANDING CONFIRMED! The Russian Soyuz TMA-12 capsule has landed in Kazakhstan, capping the 198-day, 16-hour voyage of Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov and flight engineer Oleg Kononenko, and the two-week adventure of U.S. space tourist Richard Garriott.

0336 GMT (11:36 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Standing by for confirmation of touchdown.

0331 GMT (11:31 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Now five minutes to touchdown as Soyuz descends to Kazakhstan under its main parachute.

At an altitude of five kilometers, the module's heat shield is scheduled to be jettisoned. This is followed by the termination of the aerodynamic spin cycle and the dumping of any residual propellant from the Soyuz. Computers also will arm the module's seat shock absorbers in preparation for landing.

With the jettisoning of the capsule's heat shield, the Soyuz altimeter is exposed to the surface of the Earth. Using a reflector system, signals are bounced to the ground from the Soyuz and reflected back, providing the capsule's computers updated information on altitude and rate of descent.

0327 GMT (11:27 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Recovery forces flying in helicopters in the landing zone have established communications with the crew aboard Soyuz.

0324 GMT (11:24 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Mission Control confirms the parachute deployment sequence has been performed.

0324 GMT (11:24 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Once the drogue chute is jettisoned, the main parachute will be deployed. It is connected to the Descent Module by two harnesses, covers an area of about 1,000 square meters and slows descent to 7.2 meters/second.

Initially, the Descent Module will hang underneath the main parachute at a 30-degree angle with respect to the horizon for aerodynamic stability, but the bottommost harness will be severed a few minutes before landing, allowing the Descent Module to hang vertically through touchdown.

0322 GMT (11:22 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Onboard computers should be starting a commanded sequence for deployment of the capsule's parachutes at an altitude of about 10 kilometers. Two "pilot" parachutes are unfurled first, extracting a 24-square-meter drogue parachute. Within 16 seconds, the craft's fall will slow from 230 meters per second to about 80 m/s.

The parachute deployment creates a gentle spin for the Soyuz as it dangles underneath the drogue chute, assisting in the capsule's stability in the final minutes before touchdown.

0316 GMT (11:16 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Twenty minutes to landing. The Soyuz is making its fiery plunge into the atmosphere now.

0314 GMT (11:14 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Entry Interface. The Soyuz is now hitting the upper fringes of the atmosphere at an altitude of 400,000 feet above Africa. The Expedition 17 crew will soon begin to feel the first tugs of Earth's gravity after six months in space.

The entry guidance by the spacecraft's onboard software package is scheduled to start in a couple of minutes.

0313 GMT (11:13 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

The Descent Module has pitched around to angle its heat shield for re-entry, Mission Control reports. All appears to be going according to plan tonight.

0311 GMT (11:11 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Mission Control says a successful module separation has occurred.

The three segments of the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft have jettisoned apart, allowing the crew-carrying Descent Module to safely ferry the three crew members back to Earth. The no-longer-needed Orbital Module and Instrumentation/Propulsion Module are designed to burn up in the atmosphere.

0306 GMT (11:06 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

Time to touchdown is now 30 minutes.

In about four minutes at an altitude of 87 miles, just above the first traces of the Earth's atmosphere, computers will command the separation of the three modules that comprise the Soyuz vehicle. With the crew strapped in to the Descent Module, the forward Orbital Module containing the docking mechanism and rendezvous antennas and the rear Instrumentation/Propulsion Module, which houses the engines and avionics, will pyrotechnically separate and burn up in the atmosphere.

The Descent Module's computers will orient the capsule with its ablative heat shield pointing forward to repel the buildup of heat as it plunges into the atmosphere. Entry interface at the upper fringes of the atmosphere, when the capsule is about 400,000 feet above the Earth, happens about three minutes after module separation.

0249 GMT (10:49 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

BURN COMPLETE! The Soyuz has performed its braking maneuver, committing the craft for entry into the atmosphere. Touchdown is 47 minutes away.

0247 GMT (10:47 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

The craft is flying backward over the southern Atlantic Ocean on a northeasterly trajectory bound for Africa and eventually Central Asia where landing is expected at 11:36 p.m. EDT in central Kazakhstan.

0245 GMT (10:45 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

BURN IGNITION! Thrusters on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft are firing to brake from orbit. This deorbit burn is expected to last four minutes and 22 seconds to put the capsule on a course for the trip back to Earth.

0019 GMT (8:19 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

The 15-second separation burn by the Soyuz's thrusters has been completed to accelerate the spacecraft's departure from the outpost. The deorbit burn is coming up at 10:45 p.m., with landing in Kazakhstan still expected at 11:36 p.m. EDT.

0016 GMT (8:16 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

UNDOCKING. The Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft has separated from the space station after nearly 197 days there, setting the stage for tonight's return to Earth to conclude the Expedition 17 mission. The undocking has occurred over 215 miles over the Russian-Mongolian border.

0013 GMT (8:13 p.m. EDT Thurs.)

The undocking command has been issued. Hooks and latches holding the station's Pirs docking module and Soyuz tightly together are being opened now.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2008

Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov, flight engineer Oleg Kononenko and U.S. space tourist Richard Garriott, squeezed into their Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft today and prepared to undock from the international space station, setting the stage for re-entry and landing later this evening in Kazakhstan. Touchdown is targeted for around 11:36 p.m. EDT.

Read our landing preview story.

2115 GMT (5:15 p.m. EDT)

Two Russian cosmonauts and an American tourist will leave the international space station and return to Earth tonight, landing on the steppes of central Asia inside their parachute-equipped descent capsule.

Expedition 17 commander Sergei Volkov, flight engineer Oleg Kononenko and computer game designer Richard Garriott said their goodbyes to the station's new crew -- Expedition 18 commander Mike Fincke and flight engineers Yury Lonchakov and Greg Chamitoff -- and then floating into the Soyuz TMA-12 craft currently docked to the station's Pirs compartment. The hatchway between the station and Soyuz was closed shortly before 5:15 p.m. EDT (2115 GMT).

The homeward-bound crew will work together for a next couple of hours to power up the Soyuz, active the craft's systems, remove docking clamps, depressurize the vestibule between the capsule and station and perform other work to ready for undocking.

Fincke, Lonchakov and Garriott launched to the station on October 12 aboard Soyuz TMA-13. After the brief stay, Garriott is going home while Expedition 18 is left behind to continue operations on the outpost.

The command to begin opening hooks and latches firmly holding Soyuz to its docking port will be sent at 8:13 p.m. EDT (0013 GMT). Physical separation between the two craft occurs three minutes later.

After moving a short distance from the station, the Soyuz engines will fire for 15 seconds to execute the so-called separation burn to propel the craft out of the orbiting lab's vicinity.

About two-and-a-half hours later, the capsule's engines will ignite for the deorbit burn to brake from space. The onboard computers will initiate an engine firing at 10:45:19 p.m. EDT (0245:19 GMT) that slows the ship just enough to slip out of orbit for the return to Earth. The burn will last four minutes and 22 seconds.

Shortly before reaching the top of the atmosphere, the Soyuz's three distinct modules will separate at 11:10:31 p.m. EDT (0310:31 GMT) under computer command. The crew will be located in the Descent Module, which is sandwiched between the forward Orbital Module containing the docking mechanism and the rear Instrumentation and Propulsion Module housing the engines and avionics.

The Descent Module orients itself to point the ablative heat shield in the direction of travel to protect the craft and crew from the intense plunge back to Earth. At 11:13:29 p.m. EDT (0313:29 GMT) and an altitude of 63 miles, the moment of Entry Interface occurs as the capsule hits the upper fringes of the atmosphere for the fiery re-entry.

During the fall to Earth, the Orbital Module and Instrumentation and Propulsion Module will burn up in the atmosphere.

About seven minutes after Entry Interface, the crew will experience the period of maximum G-loads during entry at an altitude of 20 miles, as they feel the tug of Earth's gravity for the first time since launch.

At 11:22:04 p.m. EDT (0322:04 GMT), the onboard computers will start a commanded sequence for deployment of the capsule's parachutes at an altitude of about 6.6 miles. Two "pilot" parachutes are unfurled first, extracting a drogue parachute.

The parachute deployment creates a gentle spin for the Soyuz as it dangles underneath the drogue chute, assisting in the capsule's stability in the final minutes before touchdown.

The drogue chute will be jettisoned, allowing the main parachute to be deployed. It is connected to the Descent Module by two harnesses.

Initially, the Descent Module will hang underneath the main parachute at a 30-degree angle with respect to the horizon for aerodynamic stability, but the bottommost harness will be severed a few minutes before landing, allowing the Descent Module to hang vertically through touchdown.

At an altitude of just over three miles, the heat shield will be cast free. That is followed by dumping of any residual propellant from the Soyuz.

Once the heat shield is gone, the Soyuz altimeter is exposed to the surface of the Earth. Using a reflector system, signals are bounced to the ground from the Soyuz and reflected back, providing the capsule's computers updated information on altitude and rate of descent.

At an altitude of about 40 feet, cockpit displays will tell the crew to prepare for the soft landing engine firing. Just seconds before touchdown, the six solid propellant engines are fired in a final braking maneuver, enabling the Soyuz to land to complete its mission.

Touchdown is expected at 11:36:38 p.m. EDT (0336:38 GMT) on the steppes of central Kazakhstan, about 85 minutes after sunrise at the landing site. The target spot is 51.0 degrees North latitude and 67.10 degrees East longitude. Expedition 17 concludes with a duration of 198 days, 16 hours, 19 minutes and 59 seconds.

A group of Russian helicopters carrying the recovery forces should arrive soon after landing to help the crew exit the capsule.

Each crew member will be placed in special reclining chairs near the capsule for initial medical tests and begin readapting to Earth's gravity. They will be transferred into a portable medical tent erected near the touchdown point where the three crew members can remove their spacesuits.

Post-landing plans call for the crew to be flown from the site in helicopters.

Copyright 2008 SpaceflightNow.com, all rights reserved.


Spaceflight Now Plus
Additional coverage for subscribers:
VIDEO: HATCH OPENING AND WELCOMING CEREMONY PLAY
VIDEO: SOYUZ DOCKS TO SPACE STATION PLAY

VIDEO: POST-LAUNCH INTERVIEW CLIPS PLAY
VIDEO: FOUR CAMERA REPLAYS OF THE LAUNCH PLAY
VIDEO: FULL LAUNCH EXPERIENCE FROM LIFTOFF TO ORBIT PLAY
VIDEO: SOYUZ ROCKET BLASTS OFF WITH EXPEDITION 18 PLAY

VIDEO: CROWD WELCOMES CREW AT THE LAUNCH PAD PLAY
VIDEO: CREW DEPARTS SITE 254 FOR LAUNCH PAD PLAY
VIDEO: ADDRESS FROM RUSSIAN STATE COMMISSION PLAY
VIDEO: CREW MEMBERS DON THEIR SOKOL SPACESUITS PLAY
VIDEO: LAUNCH MORNING TRADITIONS AT CREW QUARTERS PLAY

VIDEO: SOYUZ MOVED TO LAUNCH PAD FOR EXPEDITION 18 PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH ISS DEPUTY PROGRAM MANAGER PLAY
VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH FLIGHT CREW OPS DIRECTOR PLAY
VIDEO: ASSEMBLY OF SOYUZ ROCKET COMPLETED PLAY

VIDEO: EXPEDITION 18 PRE-FLIGHT MISSION BRIEFING PLAY

VIDEO: ISS PROGRAM MANAGER UPDATES SOYUZ INVESTIGATION PLAY
VIDEO: ISS PROGRAM MANAGER DESCRIBES SARJ REPAIR PLAN PLAY
VIDEO: ISS PROGRAM MANAGER DISCUSSES RADIATOR DAMAGE PLAY

VIDEO: INTERVIEW WITH SPACE STATION'S EXPEDITION 17 CREW PLAY
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR COMMANDER AND PILOT PRACTICE LANDINGS PLAY
VIDEO: AERIAL VIEWS OF ATLANTIS AND ENDEAVOUR PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR AT SUNRISE ON LAUNCH PAD 39B PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: AERIAL VIEWS OF ENDEAVOUR AFTER ROLLOUT PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR ROLLS FROM VAB TO LAUNCH PAD PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ARRIVAL AT PAD 39B PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ENDEAVOUR LEAVING VAB PLAY

VIDEO: SHUTTLE HOISTED FOR ATTACHMENT TO TANK PLAY | HI-DEF
VIDEO: ENDEAVOUR'S DEPARTURE FROM HANGAR PLAY | HI-DEF

VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ENDEAVOUR GOING VERTICAL PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF BEING HOISTED OFF TRANSPORTER PLAY
VIDEO: TIME-LAPSE MOVIE OF ENDEAVOUR MOVING TO VAB PLAY
SUBSCRIBE NOW

Final Shuttle Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is now available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

STS-134 Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Ares 1-X Patch
The official embroidered patch for the Ares 1-X rocket test flight, is available for purchase.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Project Orion
The Orion crew exploration vehicle is NASA's first new human spacecraft developed since the space shuttle a quarter-century earlier. The capsule is one of the key elements of returning astronauts to the Moon.
 U.S. STORE


Fallen Heroes Patch Collection
The official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

INDEX | PLUS | NEWS ARCHIVE | LAUNCH SCHEDULE
ASTRONOMY NOW | STORE

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.