Back to earth – into the history books

Astronauts safely back on earth after leaving the International Space Station received a traditional Kazakh welcome at Baikanour cosmodrome. Pavel Vinogradov, Jeffery Williams and the world’s first woman space tourist, Anousha Ansari, were greeted ahead o

The capsule carrying the orbitor’s 13th crew landed just after 0500 Moscow time, close to the target zone. It descended into the earth's atmosphere as the sun rose over Kazakhstan. Tourist Ansari, an Iranian born Muslim and telecommunications mogul who paid an estimated $20 million for her adventure, was making landfall straight into the history books alongside Russia’s Vinogradov and U.S. flyer Williams.

They took three hours to descend from the space station, a physically-taxing fall as the capsule entered the earth's atmosphere inflicting severe G forces.The orbitor is still under construction, located at an altitude of around 360 kilometres and circling the earth in about 92 minutes. The programme between Russia, the United States, Japan and Europe is expected to be complete by 2010.