Russian commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian co-pilot David Saint-Jacques and NASA flight engineer Anne McClain closed out a 204-day mission in orbit Monday with an undocking from the International Space Station at 7:25 p.m. EDT (2325 GMT), followed by landing in Kazakhstan aboard their Soyuz MS-11 capsule at 10:47 p.m. EDT (0247 GMT Tuesday).
Armed with a knife, scissors and other cutting tools, cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev went outside the International Space Station on Dec. 11 to slice into the thermal insulation of a Soyuz spaceship and inspect the site of a repaired air leak that briefly caused a minor drop in air pressure in the research outpost earlier this year.
Clad in pressurized spacesuits, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergey Prokopyev used knives and scissors to slice through insulation and a debris shield on a Soyuz spaceship set to return to Earth next week, finally reaching the capsule’s metallic hull to examine the site of an air leak plugged in August.
A Soyuz FG rocket thundered to life and shot into orbit smoothly Monday carrying three crew members on a six-hour flight to the International Space Station. The problem-free ascent came less than two months after an Oct. 11 launch abort that forced a different crew to carry out safe-but-scary emergency landing.
Veteran Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, flanked by Canadian flight engineer David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain, launched toward the International Space Station at 6:31 a.m. EST (1131 GMT) Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the first crew launch for Russia’s space program since a Soyuz booster failure led to the emergency landing of a two-man crew in October. The Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft docked with the station at 12:33 p.m. EST (1733 GMT).