Soyuz MS-04 capsule with Peggy Whitson (NASA), commander Fyodor Yurchikhin (Roscosmos) and NASA flight engineer Jack Fischer returned safely to Earth after spending 135 days at docking port of Poisk ISS module since docking on April 20, 2017.
Trio get inside Soyuz MS-04 vehicle on Saturday, September 2, 2017. At 18:41 UTC they closed hatch of their vehicle and begun last preparations for undocking and for return to Earth. crew depressurized vehicle, initialize its subsystems and took on Sokol suits. Soyuz undocked after releasing bolts securing vehicle with Poisk docking port at 21:58 UTC.
First phase of independent flight were two separation burns necessary to reach distance of 12 km from International Space Station and safely begin deorbit burn.
Next phase was deorbit burn. As it was planned it begun at 00:28 UTC on Sunday – Soyuz begun to reduce speed and gradually lower its orbit. Burn lasted 4 minutes 39 seconds and was sufficient to reduce speed of vehicle for 460 km/h.
Next phase before touchdown was separating capsule from orbital habitation and service modules at 00:56 UTC. Soyuz was on altitude of around 140 km and was closing to leave space and returned to atmosphere at 00:59 UTC. Soyuz will target to land at Kazakhstan at 47.2 degrees north latitude and 69.3 degrees east longitude, southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan.
At 01:07 UTC Soyuz deployed drogue parachute and later main parachute and begun to reduce speed before touching steppe of Kazakhstan. Ground Control Center also resumed voice communication with crew, which was terminated during reentry. Few minutes later after reaching altitude of 5 km heat shield was jettisoned and just before landing, 12 m six solid rocket thrusters started reducing speed before Soyuz landed with initialized shock absorbers under the crew members seats. Finally at 01:24 UTC Soyuz MS-04 with Peggy Whitson Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer landed.
All three crew members are in good condition and soon will separate: Fyodor Yurchikhin will return to Moscow and Jack Fischer with Peggy Whitson will return at special NASA plane to home.
Peggy Whitson spent 290 days in space during Expedition 50/51/52 (as She agreed to extend their mission in the early April 2017) and broke the record for most total days spent in space by any NASA astronaut. Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer 136 days during Expedition 52.