ISS Expedition Denies Soyuz TMA-1 Landing Malfunction

The crew of Expedition 6 to the ISS have denied that they are to blame for the malfunctioning in the landing of the Soyuz TMA-1 spacecraft, crew members - Russian cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin and American astronauts Kenneth Bowersox and Donald Pettit - told a news briefing at the Gagarin cosmonaut-training centre, held in Star City on Tuesday.

"The crew, while the craft was landing, pressed no buttons, let alone by mistake, as some mass media reported," Budarin said. "After we received a command from Mission Control to switch on the automatic landing mode the KOS system suddenly came on, putting the descent onto a ballistic path. Why this happened will be established by a commission. Because of a non-standard ballistic descent we had to endure very high G-loads. We were forcibly pressed back into our seats, and we found it difficult to breathe. But this tight fixing in the seats helped us to stand up to the 'tough' landing of the craft," he added.

Expedition commander Bowersox noted that future space pilots would have to bear in mind that outer space exercises a strong influence on human beings, and they may make mistakes. "We will await the results of the commission," he said. Bowersox remarked that the "button" controlling the ship does exist but it is firmly covered. "Media comments on assessing the crew's moves must not be categorical. Everything will be shown by telemetry checks," he emphasised.

Among the most memorable impressions from the flight the crew noted work at the station "where emotions are heightened tenfold", as well as descent and the very moment of landing.

"I have never thought that green shoots in the station's conservatory will give me such joy," Bowersox shared his experiences. "Journalists are paying a lot of time to landing difficulties and its hardness. The landing was excellent and comfortable, because it was the Earth," Bowersox said.

"As we landed I was so overwhelmed that I felt like a mythical hero, Atlas, supporting the world on his shoulders. We all shouted hurrah," said Pettit.

"When returning to Earth, you seem to see anew everything around you - an unusual sky, the brown steppe, even without tulips. Even lying down on hard ground is such an inexpressible joy," said Budarin.