Soyuz Wanna Get Out or What?

Looks pretty tight in there, comrade. I figure the thrill of orbiting Earth in the ISS is worth the cramped quarters while getting there — and back. Welcome home, Soyuz TMA-01M.

The details, via SpaceflightNow.com

Outgoing Expedition 26 commander Scott Kelly, Soyuz TMA-01M commander Alexander Kaleri and flight engineer Oleg Skripochka undocked from the International Space Station Wednesday, plunged back into the atmosphere and descended to a snowy touchdown in Kazakhstan to close out 159-day mission. With Kaleri at the controls in the descent module’s center seat, flanked by Kelly on his right and flight engineer Skripochka to his left, the Soyuz TMA-01M undocked from the Poisk compartment atop the station’s Zvezda command module at 12:27 a.m. EDT (GMT-4).
After testing repairs to the Soyuz avionics system, Kaleri monitored a four-minute 17-second rocket firing starting at 3:03:17 a.m., slowing the ship by 258 mph to begin the fall to Earth.
The three modules making up the Soyuz TMA-01M spacecraft separated as planned just before atmospheric entry, and the central crew module carrying Kaleri, Skripochka and Kelly lined up for a fiery descent to a parachute- and rocket-assisted touchdown at 3:54 a.m. near Arkalyk in north central Kazakhstan.
Braving blowing snow, brisk winds and temperatures in the 20s, Russian recovery crews and flight surgeons, along with a NASA support team, were standing by to help the astronauts out of the cramped Soyuz descent module.

“The search and recovery forces still working to extract the crew from the Soyuz capsule, which landed safely and on its side, dragging its parachute for what I would consider to be about 25 years or so before it came to rest on its side,” said NASA spokesman Rob Navias, on the scene with recovery crews in Kazakhstan. “The crew reported to be in good shape.”
A few minutes later, Kaleri, Kelly and Skripochka had been pulled from the capsule and carried to reclining chairs. Grainy video from the landing site showed support crews bundling the crew members in blankets as they began their re-adaptation to gravity.

Because of the brutal winter conditions, the recovery team planned to fly the trio to nearby Kustanai for initial medical checks and a traditional Kazakh welcoming ceremony.

Here’s the video…

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