Russia-Space 3rdLd-Writethru 04-19
South Korea’s first astronaut, Yi So-yeon, and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko, background left, walk to a news conference in Star City today.
Capsule lands off target
A Russian capsule carrying South Korea’s first astronaut touched down 260 miles off target in northern Kazakhstan on Saturday after hurtling through the atmosphere in a bone-jarring descent from the international space station.
It was the second time in a row — and the third since 2003 — that the Soyuz landing went awry.
Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin said the condition of the crew — South Korean bioengineer Yi So-yeon, American astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko — was satisfactory, though the three had been subjected to severe gravitational forces during the re-entry.
The Russian TMA-11 craft touched down at 3:51 a.m. CDT about 260 miles off its mark, Lyndin said, a highly unusual distance given how precisely engineers plan for such landings. It was also around 20 minutes later than scheduled. Search helicopters then took 25 minutes to locate the capsule and determine the crew was unharmed.