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Russian Space Capsule Lands 260 Miles Away From Target Site

South Korea's first astronaut Yi So-Yeon smiles during a medical test after returning to Earth in a Russian space capsule in northern Kazakhstan. Yi returned to Earth, touching down with two International Space Station crew members slightly off target in ex-Soviet Kazakhstan.(Xinhua Photo)
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Apr 21, 2008
Russia's space capsule carrying International Space Station crew landed 420 km (260 miles) away from the target site in northern Kazakhstan, but the crew are safe, Mission Control said Saturday. The Soyuz-TMA-11 capsule carried U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson, Russian flight engineer Yury Malenchenko, and bioengineer Yi So-yeon - the first South Korean that traveled to the ISS. Tests showed their health was satisfactory.

The spacecraft was to have landed to the north of the town of Artalyk, but it landed near the Kazakh-Russian border, southeast of the Russian town of Orsk, because of a "ballistic reentry" scheme.

During a ballistic landing, the capsule follows a much steeper descent trajectory, and gravitational forces the crew experience are way higher.

"The main thing is that the crew are safe and sound. It was a ballistic descent. The specific reasons will be known after the craft is delivered to the Energia rocket and space corporation," Anatoly Perminov, the head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, said.

Asked by journalists why Mission Control learned about the ballistic descent mode only after the landing was completed, Perminov said: "The crew in the descent capsule did not report during a communication session that they had followed a ballistic trajectory."

The incident will be investigated. In October 2007, a Soyuz capsule carrying Malaysia's first astronaut also followed a steeper trajectory during descent. In 2003, after another descent that went wrong, the crew had to wait for a few hours until rescuers were able to locate them.

Source: RIA Novosti

related report
First South Korean Astronaut Returns To Earth
The Russian Soyuz spacecraft with South Korea's first female astronaut Yi So-yeon aboard landed safely in the Kazakh steppe on Saturday, according to the Mission Control Center. The spacecraft carrying Yi, U.S. astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko undocked with the International Space Station (ISS) and started trip home earlier Saturday.

The Soyuz capsule landed in the Kazakh steppe at 12:51 Moscow time (0851GMT), 20 minutes later than the planned time and 420 km from the planned landing site, the Misson Control said.

Rescue and search groups have evacuated the cosmonauts from the capsule. The cosmonauts are safe and sound, federal space agency head Anatoly Perminov told a press conference at the Mission Control.

Whitson and Malenchenko have worked in orbit for more than 191 days, while Yi, a 29-year-old biosystems engineer, arrived at the ISS on April 10 together with Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononenko, the ISS Expedition 17 crew who will work in orbit till next autumn.

The capsule descended a ballistic descent path. It is an envisaged landing case, but the cosmonauts could feel high acceleration force, experts said.

Ballistic path returning is a rare case, which happened only twice in the ISS history - in 2003 and 2007.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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Electric Sail Invention Approaches Implementation
Helsinki, Finland (SPX) Apr 16, 2008
The electric solar wind sail developed at the Finnish Meteorological Institute has moved in a rapidly pace from invention towards implementation. Electric sail propulsion might have a large impact on space research and moving in space more generally. The electric solar wind sail developed by Dr. Pekka Janhunen at the Finnish Meteorological Institute might revolutionise moving around in deep space.

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