U.S. astronaut Mike Fossum and two colleagues returned to Earth from the International Space Station tonight, landing in bitter cold weather on the snow-swept steppe of Kazakhstan.
Russian cosmonaut Sergei Volkov performed a four-minute, 16-second engine-firing at 8:32 p.m. EST, slowing a Soyuz spacecraft enough to drop it out of orbit and send it on a supersonic slide back through the atmosphere. Flying along with him: Fossum and Satoshi Furukawa of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The crew departed the station at 6 p.m. Landing time: 9:26 p.m. EST.
Recovery forces are vectoring toward a landing site 35 miles north of Arkalyk. Temperatures are about five degrees Fahrenheit. Wind chill: 20 below zero. Winds are about 15 mph. A half-foot of snow fell in the past 24 hours.
Launched on June 8 in the same Soyuz, the three men spent 167 days in space.
Live coverage of the recovery operation is being briadcast on NASA TV. See our NASA TV viewer on the right.