Space station crew in 'good shape' after landing
Updated: December 8, 2002

The returning crew of the international space station - Expedition 5 commander Valery Korzun, flight engineer Sergei Treschev and science officer Peggy Whitson - appears to be in good shape following their return to Earth Saturday after six months in weightlessness.

"I understand they're ambulatory, walking around and hopefully feeling very content after a long and successful expedition," James Wetherbee, commander of the shuttle Endeavour, said during a news conference today.

Korzun and company declined to address reporters and the public via videotaped NASA interviews after landing Saturday and their shuttle crewmates decided not to make any post-landing comments, either.

But Michael Lopez-Alegria, who was seated on Endeavour's lower deck with the Expedition 5 crew during re-entry and landing Saturday, said all three walked off the shuttle under their own power.

"It's a little bit hard to tell because they're recumbent, they're lying down and so they sort of look like they're just lying there, which is what they're doing," Lopez-Alegria said. "But there was chit chat going on, we have our visors up during the landing, so we were talking to each other.

"Once we got on the ground and wheels stopped, it was almost business as usual, we started taking off our gloves and our helmets, waiting for the closeout crew to come on board and get us.

"It's sort of a strange turn of the tables," he said. "When we get up there, they're the experts, they've been up there for five-and-a-half months and we're sort of the neophytes on orbit and we're a little bit clumsy and they're super graceful.

"And you think, well, when we come back, it's going to be the opposite because we'll be better adapted to being on Earth having only been gone for two weeks whereas they've been up there for six months by that point. But the first few minutes, it didn't seem any different, it was less dramatic than I expected.

"Everybody's in very good spirits. I think they all probably felt mixed emotions about it. It's a great experience that they lived and to see it in the rear view mirror's probably a little bit tough. But they were in good shape all the way down."

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