Kondratyev, Coleman and Nespoli return to Earth in Soyuz TMA-20

The three astronauts pose for press photos on the steppes of Kazakhstan. Credit: ESA/S Corvaja

By Vandana Gupta

After a five month-long stay in the International Space Station, astronauts Dmitry Kondratyev, Cady Coleman and Paolo Nespoli landed safely in Kazakhstan yesterday.

Expedition 27 Commander Kondratyev and Flight Engineers Coleman and Nespoli safely returned in the Soyuz capsule to land southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan on Monday at 10:27pm EDT.

The Russian is now scheduled to return to Star City, right outside Moscow, whereas the American and Italian will fly back to Houston.

The crew launched aboard the Soyuz spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on December 15 last year.

As members of the Expedition 26 and 27 crews, the three of them each spent 159 days in space, 157 of them aboard the ISS.

A veteran of three space flights, Coleman has logged 179 days in space, while Nespoli has 174 days in space to his name, gained on two flights. This was Kondratyev’s first space mission.

On leaving the ISS on their capsule, Kondratyev, at the controls of the spacecraft, halted roughly 180m from the ISS so that Nespoli could take still pictures and video of the complex with Space Shuttle Endeavour attached – the last time Endeavour will be docked to the ISS.


During their mission, Kondratyev, Coleman and Nespoli took part in a call with Pope Benedict XVI, the first-ever call made by the religious head to space, and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano.