Expedition 28 from the ISS lands safely in Kazakhstan

By Phil Plait | September 16, 2011 9:22 am

Last night, a Soyuz TMA-21 capsule carrying three members of the space station’s Expedition 28 crew landed safely in Kazakhstan:

Among them was American Ron Garan, who has been taking devastating pictures of the Earth from the station.

I mentioned this in an earlier post, but it bears repeating: the Russian space agency says they have found and fixed the flaw that caused a Soyuz rocket to crash last month. This rocket (and another one very much like it) carries supplies and humans to the station. After the crash, flights were put on hold. Now that the problem with the third stage pump is supposed to be fixed, an unmanned flight will be attempted in October. If it works, a manned flight to the station carrying three members of Expedition 29 will go up in November.


Comments (19)

  1. Gary Ansorge

    Wow! Great photos. That’s some really dry country there. Almost as dry as Mars.

    Found this article on electric powered aircraft. I wonder why no one seems interested in pushing ground based micro wave power transmission to such craft( a long, immaterial, massless extension cord)


    Gary 7

  2. DeepField

    In what sense are Ron Garan’s pictures “devastating”?

  3. gunkan

    Devastatingly Awesome perhaps?

  4. Tribeca Mike

    gunkan — One of Webster’s definitions of devastating is “Extremely impressive, effective, or attractive.” Col. Garan’s photos certainly live up to that, n’est-ce pas?

  5. Ian S

    @ Gary, Mainly microwave power transmission is used because:
    A) its not actually a terrible efficient way of moving electricity around, probably more efficient than carrying batteries granted but less so than carrying photo voltaic solar panels.
    B) its *extremely* hazardous to anything else that happens to get in the way, for example another aircraft..

  6. MadScientist

    That sounds strange: the fault did not cause a catastrophic failure on all flights, so how does a successful flight show that the problem is gone? I guess they’ll just monitor the telemetry and check the pressures in each line. Still, that doesn’t sound like the best way to test.

  7. Megan McC

    Landing under a stripy parachute, proper old fashioned space travel.

  8. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Megan McC : But it was a land landing not a splashdown so minus points for “proper old fashioned~ness” there! ūüėČ

    Welcome home Ron Garan & thanks for sharing your photos with us. :-)

    Welcome home to Soyuz Commander Aleksandr Samokutyayev and Flight Engineer Andrei Borisenko also. :-)

  9. Megan McC

    @8 Messier Tidy Up. Quite right, I’ll just have to hope this one gets off the ground. And hope they use the candy striped parachutes as well.

  10. Robin

    @ MadScientist (#6): Perhaps the Russians have come up with a diagnostic procedure to run on the pumps and fuel delivery system in general. Perhaps they can directly inspect the pumps. While it has been discussed in the press, I’m sure there’s been a lot of testing going on to verify that the issue was correctly identified and that whatever was done to address the issue was sufficient. It’s unlikely NASA would give their consent for a launch if that weren’t the case. Given the money crunch and past accidents, I don’t think NASA is eager to have history repeat itself. Of course, this is just an opinion.

  11. JB of Brisbane

    @Messier – as you would recall, all the former Soviet/Russian landings have been on land in the deserts of Khazakhstan (spelling?) from Gagarin to the present day, so “proper old-fashionedness” is valid.

  12. @ ^ JB of Brisbane : Yeah I guess so, although I was thinking more of the “old fashioned” American space capsule landings – Mercury, Gemini & Apollo programs.

    Not sure which option is safer really. Water is softer but then gives you a sinking risk – as Gus Grissom found out with his Liberty (accidental diving) Bell splashdown. ūüėČ

    (Click on my name for Youtube clip about that.)

    [Wonder’s why Russia went for land landings – ‘spose they’ve got no convenient seas although the Black, Caspian and Aral spring to mind.]

  13. > Wonder’s why Russia went for land landings – ‘spose they’ve got no convenient seas although
    > the Black, Caspian and Aral spring to mind.

    Those seas are not big enough. Remember the recent Soyuz that cam down 400 KM off course? If that capsule had been designed for water but landed on land, then instead of scaring some farmers with their spacesuits the there cosmonauts would have been simply buried in place.

  14. Messier Tidy Upper

    @ ^ Dotan Cohen : Ah, yep. That make sense – thanks. :-)

    I was wondering shortly afterwards why the USA didn’t think of landing its returning space capsules in the Great Lakes on the US-Canadian border – guess that explains that one too. ūüėČ

  15. André

    I saw a great film the other day about the days of space station MIR back in the early nineties. These pictures reminded me of it, because there is some landing-footage of the cosmonauts in Kazakhstan as well. A really great part of the film shows the everyday-life of the cosmonauts inside the station plus their space-walks and images of MIR/Earth in orbit.

    It is a documentary called “Out Of The Present” by filmmaker Andrei Ujica.

    If you are the least bit interested in the ISS-expeditions and the russian transport techniques nowadays, you should really see that film.

    Enjoy! -André

  16. #12 MTU:
    There is one simple reason why the Russians brought their early spacecraft down on land… because the politicians demanded it! Right at the start, the engineers wanted to land in the ocean, as the Americans did, but the politicians insisted that “You will land in Soviet territory!” The reason being that they were paranoid about the US spying on their technology! Which was an unfounded fear, as US technology was already ahead; Mercury was far more sophisticated than Vostok.
    Initially, they were not confident that they could make the landings soft enough for humans to survive – which is why the Vostok cosmonauts ejected during descent, and landed by conventional parachute.
    Of course, when it came to Voskhod, there was no room for ejector seats, so they had to make sure the landing was soft enough!
    How do I know this? I was told the story at the museum of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation near Moscow – where, among other things, I saw and touched Gagarin’s actual capsule!!!
    BTW it isn’t quite true that all Soviet/Russian manned spacecraft have landed on land. There was one Soyuz mission in the 1980’s – I can’t remember the number – which landed on water… but it wasn’t intentional! The landing zone in Kazakhstan included a large lake, 20-odd miles across, and the capsule accidentally landed in the middle of it! Thankfully, it floated. Getting the capsule and crew ashore proved difficult, as it was winter, and the lake was frozen.

  17. petroleumgeologist

    Can any of you fellow bloggers illuminate why the Russians have continued to return cosmonauts and space related material via landing on terra firma instead of in the drink? it seems that it makes a whole lot more sense(safety especially) why a governmental space program would insist on returning life and hardware back with an ocean landing . Is it because the Russian navy is unable to pick up it’s mates?

  18. @ ^ petroleumgeologist : I’m not sure – I would suggest asking that question on the BAUT forum (assuming you’re a member – it’s worth joining up – click on my name for link.) since it’s now pretty late in this thread and I don’t know that too many folks will still have been reading here.

    @16. Neil Haggath : Thanks for that informative post – much appreciated. :-)

    The reason being that they were paranoid about the US spying on their technology! Which was an unfounded fear, as US technology was already ahead ..

    In fairness, I guess they weren’t to know that at the time esp. given Russia’s early lead in the Space Race.

  19. @17. petroleumgeologist :

    Ok I’ve asked your question – & added a couple of mine – on the BAUT forum. Link provided – just click on my name.

    I’m pretty sure Russia’s navy – the USSR’s at thetime was pretty powerful and advanced, maybe not quite equal to the United States but not too far behind (Albeit the Kursk disaster among other things may indicate otherwise.) so I wouldn’t have thought the Russians were incapable of retrieving the capsules from the sea – but then I’m not really sure.


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