Thunderpig’s Mirror

Soyuz Spacecraft Malfunctions, Astronauts Safe

Posted by Thunder Pig on April 19, 2008

The third malfunction in the last five flights sent the Soyuz Space Capsule into a ‘ballistic re-entry’ that subjected the astronauts to up to 10 gee’s and nearly 300 miles off-course:

The Russian Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft ferrying Expedition 16 commander Peggy Whitson, of NASA, and her crew to Earth touched down about 295 miles (475 km) short of its target zone on the central Asian steppes of Kazakhstan.

“The crew is alive and well. The landing was nominal, but by a backup design,” said Anatoly Perminov, chief of Russia’s Federal Space Agency, after the 4:30 a.m. EDT (0830 GMT) landing. “It was a ballistic descent and all the cosmonauts are feeling fine.”

A ballistic reentry is one in which a Soyuz reenters at a steeper than normal angle that subjects astronaut crews to higher forces of gravity , NASA officials said.

Cosmonauts returning from the space station last fall also experienced a ballistic reentry, as did the crew of Expedition 6 in 2003.

Whitson returned home alongside Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, an Expedition 16 flight engineer, after a six-month mission that added new science and living space to the $100 billion station. South Korea’s first astronaut, 29-year-old bioengineer So-yeon Yi, also accompanied the Expedition 16 crew to conclude her own 10-day spaceflight to the ISS.

Malenchenko, as Soyuz commander, used a satellite phone to contact recovery forces to relay that the crew was in good health.



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