Kazakhstan The seven-day space sojourn of an American millionaire scientist came to a close as he and a Russian-American crew undocked from the international space station and sped back to Earth, landing early today on the windswept steppes of Kazakhstan.
The bone-jarring descent brought an end to Gregory Olsen's space station visit, the third trip by a private citizen to the orbiting laboratory. The Soyuz spacecraft that carried them covered the approximately 250 miles from the station to Earth in 3 1/2 hours.
Olsen, American astronaut William McArthur and Russian cosmonaut Valery Tokarev blasted off from the Baikonur launch facility in Kazakhstan on Oct. 1 and docked with the space station two days later.
McArthur and Tokarev will stay aboard the station for six months, while Olsen returns with John Phillips and Sergei Krikalev, who were there since April.
Olsen, who spent two years in training and paid $20 million for his trip, conducted experiments during his visit, including one to determine how microbes that have built up on the space station are affected by flight, particularly if their rate of mutation has been affected.