Touchdown! Soyuz Spaceship's Landing Jets Fire in Photo

A spectacular shot of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft landing onthe steppes of Kazakhstan shows the bright blaze of the spacecraft's thrustersfiring just before it touched down Wednesday morning (local time).

NASA photographer Bill Ingalls took the photo from arecovery helicopter as the Soyuz TMA-17 capsule safely returned Russiancosmonaut Oleg Kotov, NASA astronaut Timothy "T.J." Creamer, andJapanese spaceflyer Soichi Noguchi backto Earth after six months onboard the International Space Station. The trioserved as members of the Expedition 22 and 23 crews.

Parachutes helped slow the descent of the Soyuz TMA-17spacecraft as it plummeted down from Earth orbit. In the final minutes thethrusters helped further ease off the speed of the capsule to enable a softlanding at 9:25 a.m. Wednesday local time (11:25 p.m. Tuesday EDT).

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Clara Moskowitz
Assistant Managing Editor

Clara Moskowitz is a science and space writer who joined the team in 2008 and served as Assistant Managing Editor from 2011 to 2013. Clara has a bachelor's degree in astronomy and physics from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She covers everything from astronomy to human spaceflight and once aced a NASTAR suborbital spaceflight training program for space missions. Clara is currently Associate Editor of Scientific American. To see her latest project is, follow Clara on Twitter.