The Soyuz space capsule has made landfall on Earth with three returning cosmonauts from the International Space Station. They included Brazil’s first man in space, Marcos Pontes. He only spent a week in orbit, whereas his American and Russian colleagues completed six-month stints.
The textbook touchdown took place in northern Kazakhstan just before dawn. TheRussians continue to maintain the station and ensure the rotation of its crews until the space shuttle returns to service, possibly in July. Currently the station is manned by two-member teams because of the problems in getting manpower and materials up to the station without the shuttle’s heavy lift capacity. In six months’ time the current crew’s tour of duty will end, and they too will be replaced.