April 19, 2008. S.P.Korolev RSC Energia – MCC-M, Korolev, Moscow region
At noon, Moscow Time, Soyuz TMA-11 descent vehicle returned to Earth. The spacecraft crew consisted of a Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko (the spacecraft Commander and Flight Engineer 1 of ISS-16), and US astronaut Peggy Whitson (Flight Engineer of the spacecraft and ISS-16 Commander) and a citizen of Republic of Korea So Yeon Yi (space flight participant of visiting expedition 14).
Yu.Malenchenko and P.Whitson completed their mission under Expedition ISS-16 program, and the first Korean cosmonaut S.Yi completed her mission under the visiting expedition 14 program. Flight Engineer 2 of ISS-16, a US astronaut G.Reisman who has been working on board the Space Station since March 13, 2008, continues his flight under the program of Expedition ISS-17 pending the arrival of his replacement on board Space Shuttle.
At the Mission Control Center near Moscow (MCC-M), the work in support of the Soyuz TMA-11 de-orbiting maneuvers and re-entry, the search for the landed descent vehicle and evacuation of the crew from it was performed under the supervision of the State Commission (The Chairman of the Commission is the Head of the Federal Space Agency A.N.Perminov) and the Technical Management for the flight tests of manned space systems (headed by the President of the S.P.Korolev RSC Energia, General Designer V.A.Lopota).
During re-entry the Soyuz TMA-11 flight was controlled by the Lead Operations Control Team working at MCC-M in cooperation with the specialists of the Federal Air-navigation Service, other Russian organizations and services, as well as the US Mission Control Center in Houston. The Flight Director was the RSC Energia First Deputy General Designer V.A.Soloviev.
The final descent and landing operations were witnessed by the representatives of FSA, NASA, ESA, Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), companies and organizations involved in the ISS program that were present at MCC-M.
After receiving a report on the crew evacuation from the descent vehicle, a brifing was held at MCC-M for Russian and foreign journalists. Taking part in the briefing were the Head of Roscosmos A.N.Perminov, NASA Associate Administrators C.Scolese and W.Gerstenmaier, Head of the ESA office in Moscow C.Feichtinger, KARI representative Yon Kim, State Secretary, Deputy Head of Roskosmos V.A.Davydov, Head of Manned Programs Directorate at Roskosmos A.B.Krasnov, RSC Energia President and General Designer V.A.Lopota, General Director of the Central Research Institute for Machine-building (TsNIIMash) G.G.Raikunov, the Head of the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems (IMBP) A.I.Grigoriev, Head of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center V.V.Tsibliev, RSC Energia First Deputy General Designer V.A.Soloviev, Head of MCC-M V.I.Lobachev, Press Secretary of the Head of Roskosmos A.A.Vorobiev.
In the evening the crew was flown in to the Chkalovsky air field and then was taken on a bus to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center for post-flight medical examination, adaptation and debriefing.
A commission was set up to analyze the spacecraft system and structure behavior during descent and landing.
1. Soyuz TMA-11 undocked from the docking port on the Functional and Cargo Module Zarya on April 19, 2008 at 9:06 Moscow Time on commands from MCC-M. The spacecraft thruster was fired for retro burn at 11:41 Moscow Time and burned nominally for 258 seconds. The descent vehicle descended through the Earth atmosphere in ballistic mode. The descent vehicle’s control system for automated descent provides for three nominal modes: controlled descent with automatic roll control, ballistic mode with automatic roll spin, and manual control mode.
2. The descent vehicle landed on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan at 50 degrees 32 minutes North latitude and 61 degrees 06 minutes East longitude. Helicopters of the search and rescue service landed near the descent vehicle in half an hour after its landing and accomplished the evacuation of the crew and the spacecraft from the landing site.
3. Soyuz TMA-11 was launched on October 10, 2007, and operated for 189 days attached to ISS as the crew rescue vehicle (since October 12, 2007). It was replaced with Soyuz TMA-12, which, on April 10, 2007, delivered to the Space Station Russian cosmonauts S.Volkov, O.Kononenko and South Korean cosmonaut S.Yi.
4. The crew of Expedition 17 to ISS, consisting of S.Volkov (cosmonaut-tester of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, ISS-17 Commander), O.Kononenko (cosmonaut-tester of RSC Energia, ISS-17 Flight Engineer 1) and G.Reisman (NASA astronaut, ISS-17 Flight Engineer 2), continue to work on board the Space Station under their mission program.
5. Manned spacecraft Soyuz that were developed and manufactured by S.P.Korolev RSC Energia have been flying since 1966, and, in particular, Soyuz TMA spacecraft have been in operation since 2002.