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Expedition 17 Crew Returns From International Space Station


HOUSTON -- Spaceflight participant Richard Garriott and two members of the 17th crew to live and work aboard the International Space Station returned to Earth at 10:37 p.m. CDT, Thursday. Russian cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Oleg Kononeko landed their Soyuz spacecraft at its targeted site in the steppes of Kazakhstan after completing 199 days in orbit and 197 days on the station.

Garriott spent 10 days on the station under a commercial agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency. He is the son of former NASA astronaut Owen Garriott, who was a member of the Skylab-3 crew in 1973.

The Expedition 17 crew members undocked their Soyuz from the station at 7:16 p.m. The deorbit burn to slow the Soyuz and begin its descent toward Earth began at 9:45 p.m.

Before undocking, the returning crew bid farewell to the new station residents. The new crew consists of Expedition 18 Commander and U.S. astronaut E. Michael Fincke, and Expedition 18 Flight Engineers Greg Chamitoff and Yury Lonchakov, a Russian cosmonaut.

Expedition 18ís main focus is to prepare the station to house six crew members on long-duration missions beginning in spring 2009.


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