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Space Crew’s Hard Landing Raises Hard Questions

Expedition 16's rough ride may point to quality-control problems in Russia.

NASA reports:

Expedition 16 Lands Safely; New Crew Performs Reboost Test

Expedition 16 Commander Peggy Whitson waves to a crowd of well wishers from the top of the airplane steps as she arrives at Chkalovsky airport, Star City along with Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko and South Korean So-yeon Yi. Whitson, Malechenko and Yi landed their Soyuz TMA-11 spacecraft on April 19, 2008 in central Kazakhstan to complete 192 days in space for Whitson and Malenchenko and 11 days in orbit for Yi. NASA PHOTO NO: JSC2008-E-035420The Expedition 16 crew members are in good spirits after they safely landed their Soyuz spacecraft Saturday in the steppes of Kazakhstan at approximately 4:30 a.m. EDT. Spaceflight participant So-yeon Yi also returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz. The landing was about 295 miles from the expected landing site, delaying the recovery forces' arrival to the spacecraft by approximately 45 minutes.

Now at Star City, Russia, Astronaut Peggy Whitson and cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko launched to the International Space Station on Oct. 10, 2007, and spent 192 days in space.

+ Read more about the Expedition 16 landing

On Monday, Expedition 17 crew members conducted a test of the Jules Verne Automated Transfer Vehicle's reboost engines. Those engines can be used to lift the orbit of the station to a higher altitude while the cargo craft is docked to the orbiting complex. Another test will be conducted on Thursday, setting the station in the proper configuration for the arrival of space shuttle Discovery on the STS-124 mission in June.

Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman also conducted a ham radio session with patients of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando, Fla.

+ Read more about Expedition 17
+ Read more about Expedition 16
+ View crew timelines
+ Read more about the European Automated Transfer Vehicle

Expedition 16 pics are up at the JSC Gallery. Video clips here. Discussion here. News resources here. Check the links at right for play-by-play and NASA TV.

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