Soyuz Lands Safely After Glitch Delays Departure

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A Russian Soyuz space capsule landed safely in Kazakhstan Sept. 25, returning two Russian cosmonauts and an American astronaut to Earth after the crew solved a technical glitch that thwarted their first homecoming attempt a day earlier.

The Soyuz TMA-18 craft touched down on Kazakh steppes in Central Asia, with sunny skies and a light breeze welcoming the spacefliers home at 1:23 a.m. EDT after 176 days living and working in space. There was no sign of the undocking glitch that marred their first departure effort the day before.

Riding aboard the Soyuz were cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Mikhail Kornienko, and NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson. The Soyuz crew left three other crewmembers behind on the space station to finish up their own mission.

The Soyuz departure from the space station just over three hours before landing was flawless, unlike the first attempt to return home.

The space station crew tried to undock the Soyuz Sept. 21, but a set of stuck hooks and latches refused to release their Soyuz capsule from its berth on the station’s Russian Poisk docking port.

It was the first time a spacecraft had tried to undock from the port, which was just delivered to the orbiting outpost last year, NASA officials said. Space station astronauts bypassed a faulty part in the Poisk docking module using electrical cables and fixed the glitch, the officials added.