Two Russian cosmonauts and a French astronaut are back on earth after a 10-day mission to the International Space Station. The mission featured the delivery of a new emergency capsule to the orbiting platform.
The trio, comprised of French astronaut Claudie Haignere and Russian cosmonauts Viktor Afanasyev and Konstantin Kozeyev, landed safely near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakstan, shortly after 1:30 UTC Wednesday as planned. All three were reported to be in good shape, although Ms. Haignere did comment that the re-entry and landing was a lot more difficult than the launch.
The French astronaut, the first European woman to board the International Space Station, said the mission went well, but she wished it had been longer. The mission was her second space flight with the Russians. She also spent 16 days aboard the Mir space station in 1996.
The three crew members' main job was to deliver the Soyuz TM-32 to the space station. In addition to its use as a vehicle to ferry space crews to the ISS, it is also designed to serve as an escape pod in the event of an emergency. It is scheduled to be replaced every six months.
The Russian-French crew also joined the current ISS crew, American Frank Culbertson and Russians Vladimir Dezhurov and Mikhail Tyurin, in a variety of experiments. Ms. Haignere is a rheumatologist and an expert in neuroscience.