International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 37: Crew members landed in the steppe of Kazakhstan at 9:49 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Sunday. They completed 166 days in space and more than 2,600 orbits. So that’s how many breathtaking sunrises they were treated to.
They returned in the Russian Soyuz spacecraft pictured here (the same type of craft used since the beginning of the Russian space program and also the craft featured in “Gravity”). This is the workhorse for space travel for American astronauts who learn Russian to fly with their counterpart cosmonauts. We have to fly with our friends from Russia to reach orbit because we no longer use the space shuttle and at present have no launch vehicle in operation to take its place. Though I miss seeing American spacecraft take off from cape Kennedy, I like the idea of “car-pooling” to orbit for environmental and budgetary reasons, and I think it is fantastic that we are so close now with our former cold-war rivals.
The Soyuz was carrying Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin and Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano. For more on the important cultural, scientific, and international relations oriented benefits of the space program, go to http://nasa.gov/.
Anyone curious about space travel, feel free to contact me with questions–or, of course, you can go to the NASA website, youtube, or Wikipedia. This has been a topic of supreme interest to me since I was a boy (as many of my childhood school-mates may remember; my nick-name was “Spaceman”). Have great moments, Friends.