Expedition 18 crew returns in SoyuzExpedition 18 crew lands in Soyuz

Two members of the 18th crew to live and work aboard the International Space Station and a spaceflight participant returned to Earth at 2:16 a.m. CDT Wednesday. NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov and spaceflight participant Charles Simonyi safely landed their Soyuz spacecraft in the steppes of southern Kazakhstan.

The Expedition 18 crew members undocked their Soyuz from the station at 10:55 p.m. April 7. The deorbit burn to slow the Soyuz and begin its descent toward Earth began at 1:24 a.m. April 8. The landing was moved to a more southerly landing site because of poor landing conditions at the original site.

Fincke commanded the Expedition 18 mission, which saw the station go to full power and begin water supply recycling. He spent 178 days in orbit on this flight and has accumulated a full year in space during his career. Launching to the station on Oct. 12, 2008, he also became the first American to fly to and from the space station twice aboard a Russian Soyuz. Lonchakov completed his first long-duration spaceflight. He spent nearly 12 days aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 2001. Simonyi, an American, spent 11 days on the station under a commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency. He is the only spaceflight participant to visit the station twice.

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