Touchdown! Soyuz Spaceship's Landing Jets Fire in Photo
A spectacular shot of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan shows the bright blaze of the spacecraft's thrusters firing just before it touched down Wednesday morning (local time).
NASA photographer Bill Ingalls took the photo from a recovery helicopter as the Soyuz TMA-17 capsule safely returned Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, NASA astronaut Timothy "T.J." Creamer, and Japanese spaceflyer Soichi Noguchi back to Earth after six months onboard the International Space Station. The trio served as members of the Expedition 22 and 23 crews.
Parachutes helped slow the descent of the Soyuz TMA-17 spacecraft as it plummeted down from Earth orbit. In the final minutes the thrusters helped further ease off the speed of the capsule to enable a soft landing at 9:25 a.m. Wednesday local time (11:25 p.m. Tuesday EDT).
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