News24

ISS astronauts land safely

2009-12-01 12:11

Moscow - A Soyuz space capsule with a Belgian, a Canadian and a Russian from the International Space Station (ISS) landed safely in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, space officials said.

"As expected, the crew of the Soyuz TMA-15 successfully landed at 10:16 (0716 GMT) around 88km north of the town of Arkalyk," a spokesperson for Russian mission control told AFP.

Belgian Frank De Winne, Canadian Robert Thirsk and Russian Roman Romanenko had spent around half a year in space, arriving at the ISS on May 29.

Television pictures showed the astronauts being pulled from the capsule and put onto stretchers by Russian cosmonaut-retrieval crews wearing blue jackets and warm hats to protect against the cold Kazakh weather.

De Winne - the first European to command the ISS - waved to the television camera as he was loaded onto a stretcher.

Space travellers have trouble walking when they return to Earth after long stays in zero gravity.

"They all feel good.... I congratulate everyone. The main thing is they are all alive and well," Anatoly Perminov, head of the Russian federal space agency, told a televised news conference after the landing.

The three space travellers were expected to return to the Star City cosmonaut training centre outside Moscow later on Tuesday to be reunited with their families and continue readjusting to gravity.