HOUSTON, Nov. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Three members of the Expedition 33 crew undocked from the International Space Station and returned safely to Earth Sunday, wrapping up a mission lasting more than four months.
Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA, Flight Engineer Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Russian Soyuz Commander Yuri Malenchenko undocked their Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft from the space station at 4:26 p.m. CST and landed north of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan, at 7:56 p.m. ( 7:56 a.m., Nov. 19, Kazakhstan time). The trio arrived at the station July 17 and spent 127 days in space, 125 of which were aboard the orbiting laboratory. This was the first pre-dawn landing in darkness for a station crew since April 9, 2006, when Expedition 12 crew members returned.
NASA astronaut Kevin Ford took command of the space station on Nov. 18. When the Soyuz spacecraft undocked from the space station, Expedition 34 began. Ford and his crewmates, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin, will tend to the station as a three-man crew for one month until the arrival of three new crew members, including NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn.Expedition 33 advanced the scope of research aboard the station by conducting a wide range of physical science, Earth observation and technology demonstration investigations. Research included testing radiation levels on the orbiting outpost, assessing how microgravity affects the spinal cord, and investigating dynamic processes on Earth, such as melting glaciers, seasonal changes and human impacts on the ecosystem.