ISS trio back on Earth: Soyuz successfully lands in Kazakhstan

ISS trio back on Earth: Soyuz successfully lands in Kazakhstan
The Russian-piloted spaceship Soyuz TMA-12M has successfully brought back the ISS crew of Russian cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artyomyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson following a six-month stay on the orbital outpost.

"The capsule landed in the planned landing area, about 148 km south-east of the Kazakh town of Dzhezkazgan," the Russian Flight Control Center reported.

Russian search and rescue team members pose for a photo with Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev (front-2nd L), Alexander Skvortsov (C) and US NASA astronaut Steven Swanson (front 2nd R) after the landing of the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft near the Kazakhstan city of Zhezkazgan on September 11, 2014. (AFP Photo / Maxim Shipenkov)

The entrance into the Earth’s atmosphere over Kazakhstan occurred at about 01:30 GMT, on an altitude of about 350 kilometers above the Earth's surface, when the spaceship's engines began the braking.

Swanson, who commanded 40th expedition, turned over leadership of Soyuz capsule to cosmonaut Maxim Suraev prior to departure.

“We’ve accomplished a lot, we’ve had a lot of fun,” said Swanson. “We did lots of cargo. We did lots of science. We actually set the record for number of hours of science in a week.”

Expedition 40/41 crew members - ESA German astronaut Alexander Gerst, Russian cosmonaut Max Suraev, and US astronaut Reid Wiseman of NASA - pose for a photograph during a press conference prior to the Expedition 40/41 launch of a Soyuz rocket which will connect with the International Space Station (ISS).(AFP Photo / Stephane Corvaja)

“I promise that me personally and our crew, we’re going to do our best to continue this great work, what (you) guys did and we together did already,” said Suraev.

Russian cosmonaut Maksim Surayev, US astronaut Reid Wiseman and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst will continue their work at International Space Station (ISS) until the arrival of three new crew members.

Russian cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova, as well as NASA astronaut Barry Wilmore, are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan on September 26.

Expedition 40 Flight Engineer Alexander Skvortsov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) gives a thumbs up as he is helped out of the Soyuz Capsule just minutes after he and Flight Engineer Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos, and Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson of NASA, landed in their Soyuz TMA-12M capsule in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. (AFP Photo / Bill Ingalls)