May 5, 2002.
Korolev, Moscow region.
The crew of the third Russian visiting
mission to the International Space Station (ISS) - a Russian cosmonaut
Yuri Gidzenko (the Soyuz spacecraft commander, instructor, test cosmonaut
of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center), an Italian citizen Roberto
Vittori (flight engineer, ESA astronaut), and a citizen of the Republic of
South Africa Mark Shuttleworth (space flight participant) - has returned
to Earth in the descent vehicle of the Soyuz TM-33 spacecraft after
completing a 10-day mission program.
The spacecraft undocked from the Russian Pirs module at 04:31:08 Moscow
Daylight-Saving Time on the control commands from the Mission Control
Center near Moscow (MCC-M). The vehicle descended using its nominal
descent profile in the automatic mode.
The descent vehicle landed in its targeted landing area located 26 km
south-east of Arkalyk (Kazakhstan). The landing time was 07:52.
The tasks of the mission have been successfully completed: transportation
spacecraft Soyuz TM-33, which stayed docked with ISS since October 23,
2002 as a crew rescue vehicle, has been replaced with Soyuz TM-34
spacecraft; the full scope of scientific research and experiments under
the visiting mission program has been completed.
The visiting crew 3, together with the ISS fourth expedition crew (ISS-4),
conducted 96 sessions that covered all the planned experiments in all the
areas of space research under Russian, Italian, and South African programs
(medical science, biology, technology, engineering, Earth remote sensing,
The subjects of study included processes in plasma-dust crystals and
liquids under microgravity, metabolism in human body during adaptation to
space flight environment, effect of zero gravity on the cosmonauts'
cardiovascular system and their capacity for work. An assessment was done
of the esthetic, hygienic and thermal qualities of the experimental
clothes developed for ISS crews. Experiments have been carried out to
obtain high-quality monocrystals of soluble proteins in micro gravity for
the purpose of creating a new generation of drugs, among many other
In the course of the mission, there were telecasts showing the third
visiting crew arrival to ISS and their parting with the ISS-4 crew prior
to their return to Earth. The life of the crews on-board the station and
their activities with symbolic objects were filmed on video and camera;
there were also TV communications sessions for representatives of European
and Italian space agencies, as well as for the mass media; ham radio
communications sessions with South-African schoolchildren.
The ISS space station continues its flight in a low-Earth orbit with
inclination of 51.65°, with the maximum and minimum altitudes of 411.8
and 385.7 km, respectively, and orbital period of 92.3 minutes.
The ISS currently consists of the Functional Cargo Module Zarya, Service
Module Zvezda, docking compartment Pirs, spacecraft Soyuz TM-34 and
Progress M1-8, as well as US modules Unity, Destiny and airlock Quest. The
overall mass of the space station is about 149.4 tons.
The on-board systems of the Soyuz TM-34 transportation spacecraft and
space station modules operate within design limits.
The expedition crew ISS-4 - Russian cosmonaut Yuri Onufrienko (Commander)
and US astronauts Carl Walz and Daniel Bursch (flight engineers) -
continue to work in orbit according to the mission plan. This crew is to
be rotated during a Shuttle mission slated for launch in May 2002.
During return to Earth of the Soyuz TM-33, its mission was controlled by
the Lead Operations Control Team (LOCT) at MCC-M near Moscow (Korolev),
which works in cooperation with the specialists of the US Mission Control
(Houston). LOCT includes RSC Energia managers and leading experts,
specialists from other companies and organizations. The Flight Director is
Present at MCC-M during de-orbit maneuvers and descent of Soyuz TM-33 were
the Technical Director of the Russian manned space programs, S.P.Korolev
RSC Energia Designer General, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Yu.P.Semenov, representatives from Rosaviacosmos and space agencies from
abroad, leading experts from RSC Energia, Russian companies and
organizations participating in the ISS program.
The progress of the operations to return the crew to Earth was observed
from the main control room of MCC-M by representatives of Italian and
South African embassies to Russia, family members, relatives and friends
of Roberto Vittori and Mark Shuttleworth.
In the afternoon of that day, the third visiting crew returned to the Star
City for the post-flight checkup and rest at the preventorium of the
Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center. At the Chkalovsky airport near Moscow
Yuri Gidzenko, Roberto Vittori, and Mark Shuttleworth had been warmly
greeted by the Technical Director of the Russian manned space programs,
S.P.Korolev RSC Energia Designer General, member of the Russian Academy of
Sciences Yu.P.Semenov, the Head of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center
colonel-general P.I.Klimuk, Director of the Institute for Medical and
Biological Problems A.I.Grigoriev, representatives of foreign space
agencies, families, relatives and friends of the cosmonauts.