Soyuz MS-01 lands, Expedition 50 begins

 The Soyuz MS-01 capsule descends toward the ground over the Steppe of Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

The Soyuz MS-01 capsule descends toward the ground over the Steppe of Kazakhstan. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

Three space-flyers boarded their Soyuz spacecraft, undocked, deorbited and landed back on Earth early Sunday morning local Kazakh time.

Soyuz MS-01 landed on the Steppe of Kazakhstan at 9:58 a.m. Oct. 30 (03:58 GMT / 11:58 p.m. EDT Oct. 29). Returning to Earth after 115 days in space were Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins.

After handing over command of the International Space Station to NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough Friday, at 5:12 p.m. EDT (21:12 GMT) Oct. 29, the returning trio shut the hatch to their spacecraft leaving behind Kimbrough and Russian cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov.

Three hours later, once the outbound crew undocked their Soyuz from the Rassvet module, Expedition 49 officially ended and Expedition 50 began.

After performing two separation burns, the Soyuz left the vicinity of the ISS. Two hours later, at 11:06 p.m. EDT (03:06 GMT Oct. 30), the Soyuz performed a deorbit burn lasting 4 minutes, 37 seconds.

Just before hitting the top of the atmosphere, the Soyuz split into three pieces -- an Orbital Module, Descent Module and Propulsion Module. Only the Descent Module with the crew is designed to return to Earth intact.

At 11:44 EDT (03:44 GMT Oct. 30), after entering the atmosphere and slowing down sufficiently, the parachutes began to deploy to slow the craft down even more. Fourteen minutes later, the capsule touched down southeast of the town of Zhezkazgan.

Back on the ISS, after the Soyuz MS-01 crew left, the crew complement was reduced to three. In just a few weeks, Soyuz MS-03 will launch with NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet to join Expedition 50. Their launch is set for 3:20 p.m. EDT (20:20 GMT) Nov. 17 at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Video courtesy of NASA

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Derek Richardson

I am a space geek who loves to write about space.

My passion for space ignited when I watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on October 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, I soon realized that my true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.

Currently, I am a senior at Washburn University studying Mass Media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism. In addition to running Orbital Velocity, I write for the Washburn Review and am the Managing Editor for SpaceFlight Insider.