Russian cosmonaut Yurchikhin, the Soyuz commander, was at the controls of the spacecraft as it undocked at from the station's Rassvet module. The trio landed at ( on Nov. 26 local time) at a site northeast of the town of
Working in frigid temperatures, Russian recovery teams were on hand to help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and re-adjust to gravity. Yurchikhin will return to the
in Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center , outside of Star City , while Wheelock and Walker will fly directly home to Moscow . Houston
The trio launched aboard the Soyuz TMA-19 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in
on June 15. As members of the Expedition 24 and 25 crews, they spent 163 days in space, 161 of them aboard the station, and celebrated the 10th anniversary of continuous human life, work and research by international crews aboard the station on Nov. 2. Kazakhstan
During their mission, the Expedition 24 and 25 crew members worked on more than 120 microgravity experiments in human research; biology and biotechnology; physical and materials sciences; technology development; and Earth and space sciences.
The astronauts also responded to an emergency shutdown of half of the station's external cooling system and supported three unplanned spacewalks by Wheelock and Expedition 24 Flight Engineer Tracy Caldwell Dyson to replace the faulty pump module that caused the shutdown. Their efforts restored the station's critical cooling system to full function.
Yurchikhin has logged 371 total days in space, Wheelock 178 days and
163 days. Walker
The station is occupied by Expedition 26 Commander Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka of the Russian Federal Space Agency. A new trio of Expedition 26 flight engineers, NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev and Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency, will launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on Dec. 15. They will dock with the station and join its crew on Dec. 17.
To send holiday greetings to the crew and get more information about the space station, visit http://www.nasa.gov/station.
Wheelock and Kelly both post updates about their missions to their Twitter pages at http://www.twitter.com/Astro_Wheels and http://www.twitter.com/StationCDRKelly.
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