KOROLYOV /Moscow Region/, June 11. /TASS/. Search and rescue groups have evacuated the astronauts, who returned to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS), from the descent capsule of the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft, the Moscow Region-based Mission Control Center said Thursday.
The descent capsule of the Soyuz TMA-15M manned spacecraft with three members of an international crew on board - Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, American astronaut Terry Virts and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti - landed at the estimated time in Kazakhstan.
The Mission Control Center specified that commander Shkaplerov was the first to be evacuated. Cristoforetti was the second and Virts the last one to be taken out.
The crew worked in orbit since late November 2014. The astronauts were to have returned May 14 but had to stay in orbit longer due to April’s accident involving the Progress M-27M spacecraft.
Russian cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Korniyenko, as well as NASA astronaut Scott Kelly remained on board the space station. The next manned spacecraft - Soyuz TMA-17M - will blast off toward the ISS July 24.
The Progress M-27M cargo spacecraft was launched on April 28 from the Baikonur space center on a Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket. The rocket took the spacecraft to a higher orbit than required to dock with the ISS. After a few unsuccessful attempts to get control of the spacecraft, experts gave up the idea. The Progress was taking food, oxygen and other cargos to the ISS crew. It burned in dense atmosphere May 8.
Roscosmos concluded that the cause of the accident was "abnormal separation" of the Soyuz third stage and the Progress due to decompression of the rocket’s fuel tanks, caused by an unaccounted design property.