Astronaut Chris Hadfield and his Space Station crew land safely on Earth


The Expedition 35 crew members are assisted by recovery teams and medical personnel shortly after landing in Kazakhstan aboard their Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft. Credit: NASA TV



International Space Station commander Chris Hadfield, who captivated the world's attention with his tweets and stunning photographs of space, safely returned to Earth on Monday night.

A Soyuz capsule carrying Hadfield and Flight Engineers Tom Marshburn and Roman Romanenko landed in southern Kazakhstan at 10:31 p.m. EDT.

"It's beautiful," Romanenko said right before landing. "It's morning here."

The capsule slowly descended by parachute as Russian search and rescue helicopters waited anxiously nearby.

Bob McDonald, the host of CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks, explained how the capsule needs to rapidly decelerate as it nears Earth.

"When they hit the air, they're like a stone hitting water. They're traveling more than 20,000 kilometres an hour.…They have to get rid of all that speed, and they do that just with friction of the air and parachutes."

A helicopter was waiting to take the astonauts to Karaganda, Kazakhstan for medical checkups before Hadfield and Marshburn fly back to Houston. Romanesko will take a Russian flight to Star City, Russia, reports CBC.

The crew made up Expedition 35 and have been manning the space station for 146 days.

Hadfield, the first Canadian commander of the ISS, handed control over to the next team of astronauts under the command of Russian cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov. 

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Vinogradov is scheduled to remain on the station with Flight Engineers Chris Cassidy and Alexander Misurkin until September. They will be joined by Flight Engineers Karen Nyberg, Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano on May 28. 

Hadfield marked his departure from the space station by recording his own version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" before packing up and leaving for Earth.