After serving around five months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) as part of the Expedition 31 and 32 crews, three astronauts returned to Earth on Monday, September 17, aboard the Soyuz TMA-04M space capsule.
The Russian-built spacecraft is seen here landing just north of the town of Arkalyk, on the steppes of Kazakhstan, where Soyuz vehicles returning from the station usually touch down. The photo was snapped from a helicopter surveying the area.
Emergency response personnel were on station within minutes, taking the astronauts out of the spacecraft, and rushing them to an improvised medical tent for assistance. While the landing was flawless, prolonged exposure to weightlessness does have some negative health effects.
Aboard the Soyuz capsule were former Expedition 32 Commander Gennady Padalka and Sergie Revin, both from the Russian Federal Space Agency (RosCosmos) and NASA astronaut Joseph M. Acaba.