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Cosmonauts returning from ISS land in Kazakhstani steppe

November 22, 2011, 8:25 UTC+3

Right after the landing, Sergei Volkov, Michael Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa were taken by helicopters to the city of Kustanai for getting a preliminary medical examination

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KOROLYOV, Moscow region (Itar-Tass) – Descent capsule of the Soyuz manned spaceships with three cosmonauts aboard made a soft landing at 06:25 Moscow Standard Time on the territory of Kazakhstan.

Right after the landing, the Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov, NASA astronaut Michael Fossum and Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa were taken by helicopters to the city of Kustanai for getting a preliminary medical examination at a mobile hospital.

From Kustanai, Volkov will be taken aboard a chartered jet to the Chkalovsky airbase near Moscow where he will meet with his family members and colleagues, while Fossum and Furukawa will go straight to Houston.

The three cosmonauts have stayed for more than 167 days at the International Space Station as part of Expedition 29.

The crew has brought back from space the fruit flies that hatched out from maggots in orbit as part of an experiment designed to help the scientists understand the process of DNA structure restoration in space.

The maggots were taken to space November 16 aboard the Soyuz TMA-22 spaceship and the flies that appeared there have produced offspring. Now several dozen “space flies” will add to the scientists collection

Expedition 28/29 had a tight and, in some way, historical program. The cosmonauts received the crew of the U.S. Shuttle Atlantis, the last flight of which signed an end to the three decades of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program.

Also, the crew received and unloaded the cargoes taken into orbit by two Progress ships.

Under the initial plan, Volkov and his fellow-Russians Andrei Borisenko and Alexander Samokutiayev were to dock and unload one more Progress ship but it never reached the ISS, as its carrier rocket exploded six minutes after the launch.

As a result, all the cargoes aboard the misfortunate Progress were lost.

The crew effectuated an expansive research program in orbit. The Russian part of it alone included 25 experiments, some of them staged at the ISS for the firs time ever.

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