MOSCOW, November 9 (RIA Novosti) – A manned space capsule with a crew of three astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS) and the space-born generation of fruit flies is set to return to Earth early on November 10, the Russian Mission Control Center told RIA Novosti.
"The Soyuz [TMA-13M spacecraft] is scheduled to undock from the ISS at 3:31 a.m. MSK [24:31 GMT]. The braking engines will be switched on to help slow down [the capsule] at 6:05 a.m., the spacecraft will split into segments at 6:09 a.m. The capsule is due to enter the Earth's atmosphere at 6:35 with the gravitation effect on cosmonauts expected to peak at 6:42 a.m. The command to release the parachute is to be given at 6:44 a.m. Space travelers are expected to land at 6:58 a.m., 82 kilometers away from the settlement of Arkalyk," the source at the mission control center said.
He said an emergency crew will be stationed near the supposed landing site in Kazakhstan, including some 300 military personnel who will be tasked with finding the capsule and retrieving the ISS crew, in addition to 14 Mi-8 helicopters, An-26 transport aircraft and six search-and-rescue vehicles.
The capsule will bring back to the Earth the leader of the ISS Expedition 41, Russian cosmonaut Maxim Surayev, as well as two flight engineers, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman and ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst.
The rest of the crew – Russian flight engineer Alexander Samokutyayev from ISS Expedition 41/42, Russian cosmonaut Elena Serova, and NASA's Barry Wilmore who was assigned to the ISS crew to serve as the flight engineer of the ISS Expedition 41 and lead the ISS Expedition 42 – will stay abroad the ISS and wait for the reinforcement of Russia's Anton Shkaplerov, ESA's Samantha Cristoforetti and NASA's Terry Virts, who will arrive on November 24.
The spacecraft will come back with the space-born generation of experimental fruit flies. These short-lived insects are commonly used as a test subject for studying the effects of microgravity on complex multicellular organisms.