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More Details for 2006-04-07
International Space Station Status Report: SS06-016

After orbiting Earth more than 3,000 times during six months on the International Space Station, Expedition 12 Commander Bill McArthur and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev returned to the planet Sunday morning in Kazakhstan.

With them was Marcos Pontes, Brazil's first astronaut.

The Soyuz spacecraft with McArthur, Tokarev and Pontes landed in central Kazakhstan, about 30 miles northeast of Arkalyk, at 7:48 p.m. EDT, Saturday. The crew's families will greet them at Star City, Russia, near Moscow, early Monday. McArthur and Tokarev will remain in Star City for post-flight debriefings before returning to Houston later this month. McArthur and Tokarev launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Sept. 30, 2005.

They spent 189 days, 18 hours and 51 minutes in space. During their mission, they conducted two spacewalks and relocated their Soyuz spacecraft twice, becoming the first ISS crew to dock to every Russian docking port on the complex. They also became the first two-person station crew to conduct a spacewalk in both Russian and U.S. spacesuits. Pontes flew to the station with the Expedition 13 crew last week as part of a commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos. He spent eight days on the station conducting experiments.

The new station crew, Expedition 13 Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Flight Engineer and NASA Science Officer Jeff Williams, will have light duty for the next few days as they rest from a busy handover. They will remain in orbit for six months. The crew plans to perform two spacewalks and greet two space shuttle crews during their expedition.

Joining them during their stay on the station will be Thomas Reiter, a European Space Agency astronaut from Germany, also flying under a commercial agreement with Roscosmos. Reiter is scheduled to come to the station on the Space Shuttle Discovery's STS-121 mission, targeted for a July launch.

Reiter will be the first non-Russian, non-U.S. long-duration crew member on the station. His arrival will bring the station crew size to three for the first time since May 2003, when the crew size was reduced to conserve supplies in the wake of the Columbia accident.

Shuttle Atlantis' STS-115 mission is also scheduled during Expedition 13 and will resume major assembly of the station. The shuttle and station crews will work together to add another set of batteries and solar arrays to the complex.

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