KOROLEV (Moscow Region), March 2. /TASS/. The Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft carrying Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, US astronaut Scott Kelly and spacecraft commander Sergey Volkov has successfully landed in Kazakhstan, Moscow-based Mission Control Center told TASS on Wednesday.
"The spacecraft has landed," the center said.
Russia’s Roscosmos state corporation earlier said Kelly and Kornienko, who spent 11 months at the International Space Station (ISS), would exit the capsule themselves thus imitating landing on Mars where no search and recovery teams will meet them, however they failed to leave it without any outside help.
"Specialists of the search evacuation service helped the cosmonauts to get out of the capsule," the center said.
Volkov, who spent 182 days aboard the ISS, was the first crew member to be evacuated from the capsule, followed by Kelly and Kornienko.
Weather conditions in Kazakhstan’s steppe were ideal for evacuation, said Grigory Melekhov, who heads a search and rescue unit and paratroopers service in the central military district.
"The Soyuz landing was as normal. The weather conditions were ideal and allow rescuers to work," Melekhov said. "The cosmonauts have been already evacuated and undergo first medical checks."
After the medical examination, the ISS crew members will be taken to Kazakhstan’s Jezkazgan and later to Moscow. The US astronaut will fly back home. This is the first experience of a long-duration expedition for the US.
US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft welcomed the return of ISS crew after the expedition. He said the joint 11-month long flight of Kornienko and Kelly is very important for relations of Russia and the United States amid the current differences.