On November 22, 2011 at 02:25 UTC the Russian"Soyuz TMA-02M” spacecraft landed safely in the vicinity of the city of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. Russian cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, American astronaut Michael Fossum and Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa returned to Earth.
They had worked on board the orbital station as part of Expedition 29 since July 2011 and spent in space 167 days 06 hours and 12 minutes.
Their return was originally set for November 16, but the failed launch of a Progress space freighter on August 24 forced the rescheduling.
The three crewmembers remaining on board the ISS – Russian cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoliy Ivanishin, and NASA astronaut Daniel Burbank – arrived at the orbital station on November 16 as part of Expedition 29 and Expedition 30. They will stay on board the station for 124 days, performing a spacewalk and conducting 37 scientific experiments.
The next launch of a piloted Soyuz spacecraft with three new crewmembers to the ISS is scheduled for December 21.
Russian Soyuz and Progress spacecraft have taken the bulk of crew rotation and cargo missions to the ISS after NASA stopped launching its shuttles this year. Under a contract between Russian space agency Roscosmos and NASA, signed on March 14, Soyuz spacecraft will take at least 12 U.S. astronauts to the ISS and back until 2016.