The Soyuz-TMA spacecraft with three crew members onboard undocked from the International Space Station early on Tuesday, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported from the Mission Control.
The spacecraft, carrying Russian cosmonaut Dmitry Kondratyev, ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli and NASA astronaut Catherine Coleman, undocked from the ISS on schedule.
The outgoing expedition is to end their five-and-a-half-month stay in space and land in Kazakhstan at 6:04 Moscow time [2:04 GMT] Tuesday.
The search for their reentry capsule will be conducted by 17 aircraft (three planes and seven helicopters) and seven rescue vehicles.
The remaining three members of Expedition 27 – cosmonauts Andrei Borisenko and Aleksandr Samokutyayev and U.S. astronaut Ronald Garan will continue their work on the orbit and will be transferred to the Expedition 28. Three other Expedition 28 members – Russia’s Sergey Volkov, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and US astronaut Michael Fossum – will join the ISS crew in early June.
Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft will take the bulk of crew rotation and cargo missions to the ISS after NASA stops launching its shuttles. Under a contract between Russian space agency Roscosmos and NASA, signed on March 14, Soyuz spacecraft will take 12 astronauts to the ISS and back until 2016.
MISSION CONTROL, May 24 (RIA Novosti)