New blog post from André: ‘I am back on Earth but...

In his first blog entry since returning to Earth, ESA astronaut André Kuipers looks back at the intense experience of the landing and explains how the PromISSe mission hasn’t quite finished for him yet. He writes: “My...

André’s PromISSe mission continues on Earth

ESA astronaut André Kuipers is spending the next couple of weeks at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA, where his PromISSe mission continues with post-flight tests, revalidation and debriefings. After arriving in Houston early on 2 July he said: “The return journey went perfectly. It was quite tough, I felt sick when I was back on Earth, and wasn’t able to walk straightaway. But the care we were given was great and I soon felt better. I was able to take a long sleep in the plane on the way to America. I sat in the grass for a while during one of the stopovers. It smelt so good! I saw...

The Soyuz landing, in images

ESA astronaut André Kuipers, together with his Russian Commander Oleg Kononenko and NASA astronaut Donald Pettit, landed safely on the steppes of Kazakhstan on 1 July 2012, at 10:14 CEST (08:14 UT), in their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft. During his six-month PromISSe mission on the International Space Station, André conducted over 50 scientific experiments in the world’s only permanent microgravity laboratory. Credits: ESA–S. Corvaja, 2012


Video replay: Crew greeted with traditional ceremony

Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko, NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers were greeted in a traditional ceremony at the airport in Karaganda, Kazakhstan on 1 July 2012, hours after landing in their Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft on the steppe of Kazakhstan southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan. After the ceremony, the crew split up, with Kononenko returning to his training base in Star City, Russia, while Pettit and Kuipers boarded a NASA plane in Karaganda to return to the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The trio completed 193 days in space and 191 days aboard the International Space Station following a launch in late December. The...


Video replay: Soyuz landing in Kazakhstan

Replay of today’s landing of the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 10:14 CEST (08:14 UT) returning Expedition 30/31 crewmembers Oleg Kononenko, André Kuipers and Don Pettit to Earth after 193 days in space.

Soyuz undocks from ISS

The Soyuz TMA-03M undocked from the International Space Station at 06:47 CEST (04:47 UT) this morning, starting the return journey to Earth for ESA astronaut André Kuipers, NASA’s Don Pettit and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko. They are set to land in Kazakhstan at 10:14 CEST (08:14 UT).


Farewells and hatch closure completed

Expedition 31 crewmembers André Kuipers, Don Pettit and Oleg Kononenko have said their farewells to the rest of the International Space Station crew and entered their Soyuz spacecraft ahead of their return to Earth. The hatches between the ISS and the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft were closed at 03:32 CEST (01:32 UT). They will now perform leak checks of their spacecraft and are scheduled to undock from the ISS at around 06:48 CEST (04:48 UT). Watch the replay from NASA TV:


Watch live: Soyuz TMA-03M return to Earth

Watch the hatch closure, departure and landing of the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft live via NASA TV. Schedule: 03:15 CEST / 01:15 UT — Expedition 31 farewells and hatch closure coverage (hatch closure at 03:40/01:40 UT) 06:30 CEST / 04:30 UT — Expedition 31/Soyuz TMA-03M undocking coverage (undocking at 06:47 CEST / 04:47 UT) 09:00 CEST / 07:00 UT — Expedition 31/Soyuz TMA-03M deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn at 09:19 CEST / 07:19 UT, landing at 10:15 CEST / 08:15 UT) Watch on NASA TV:

ISS command handed to Padalka

Expedition 31 Commander Oleg Kononenko ceremonially handed command of the International Space Station to Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka. The two cosmonauts along with their four station crewmates were inside the Zvezda service module for the crew handover.

Sequence of events: hatch closure to landing

The sequence of events below are as expected on 1 July for the return of the Soyuz TMA-03M with ESA astronaut André Kuipers, NASA’s Don Pettit and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko. Departure starts with the undocking command at 06:50 CEST (04:50 UT) and ends with landing in Kazakhstan at 10:15 CEST (08:15 UT). 03:32 CEST (01:32 UT) – Hatch closure 06:44 CEST (04:44 UT) – Undocking command to open hooks and latches 06:47 CEST (04:47 UT) – Hooks opened / physical Separation of Soyuz TMA-03M from the Rassvet/MRM1 module at 0.12 m/s 06:56 CEST (04:56 UT) – Separation burn from ISS (15 second burn of the Soyuz engines, 0.55 m/s; Soyuz distance...


Paolo Nespoli: ‘The trip back is fairly interesti...

Listen to ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli describe his experience of returning to Earth with the Soyuz spacecraft. “To transfer yourself from space back to the ground you have to go through this gruesome, pretty gruelling event,” he explains.

The way back to Earth

Having lived and worked on the International Space Station for 191 days, spanning both Expeditions 30 and 31, ESA astronaut André Kuipers and his crewmates Oleg Kononenko and Don Pettit are preparing to return Earth on Sunday morning. After entering the Soyuz TMA-03M spacecraft and closing the hatches at 03:40 CEST, the Soyuz is set to undock from the Station at 06:53 CEST on Sunday morning. A couple of hours later at 09:19 CEST, a 4 minute 25 second deorbit burn will start the Soyuz on it’s journey towards Earth’s atmosphere. Shortly before entering the atmosphere, at 09:48 CEST, the Soyuz spacecraft separates into its three parts. The orbital and service modules...