Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 278

Soyuz TMA-21



Patch Soyuz TMA-21 Patch Soyuz TMA-21

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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  04.04.2011
Launch time:  22:18:20.115 UTC
Launch site:  Baikonur
Launch pad:  1
Altitude:  378 - 395 km
Inclination:  51.64°
Docking ISS:  06.04.2011, 23:09:13 UTC
Undocking ISS:  16.09.2011, 00:38:12 UTC
Landing date:  16.09.2011
Landing time:  03:59:43.8 UTC
Landing site:  47°19'11,6" N, 69°30'06,8" E

walkout photo

Crew Soyuz TMA-21

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alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo

alternative crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1  Samokutyayev  Aleksandr Mikhailovich  Commander 1 164d 05h 41m 24s  2576 
2  Borisenko  Andrei Ivanovich  Flight Engineer 1 164d 05h 41m 24s  2576 
3  Garan  Ronald John, Jr.  Flight Engineer 2 164d 05h 41m 24s  2576 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Samokutyayev
2  Borisenko
3  Garan
Soyuz TMA spacecraft
1  Samokutyayev
2  Borisenko
3  Garan

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Shkaplerov  Anton Nikolayevich  Commander
2  Ivanishin  Anatoli Alekseyevich  Flight Engineer
3  Burbank  Daniel Christopher  Flight Engineer
Crew Soyuz TMA-21 backup
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Launch vehicle:  Soyuz-FG (No. 29M134S I15000-036)
Spacecraft:  Soyuz TMA-21 (TMA No. 231)


Launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Landing 144 km southeast of Dzheskasgan. ISS Expedition 27 / 28. The spacecraft was named after Yuri Gagarin.

Following a two-day solo flight Soyuz TMA-21 docked to ISS on April 06, 2011. Aleksandr Samokutyayev, Andrei Borisenko and Ronald Garan became the ISS Expedition 27 (together with ISS Expedition 26 crew members Dmitri Kondratiyev, Paolo Nespoli and Catherine Coleman).

The Soyuz spacecraft is composed of three elements attached end-to-end - the Orbital Module, the Descent Module and the Instrumentation/Propulsion Module. The crew occupied the central element, the Descent Module. The other two modules are jettisoned prior to re-entry. They burn up in the atmosphere, so only the Descent Module returned to Earth.
The deorbit burn lasted 260 seconds. Having shed two-thirds of its mass, the Soyuz reached Entry Interface - a point 400,000 feet (121.9 kilometers) above the Earth, where friction due to the thickening atmosphere began to heat its outer surfaces. With only 23 minutes left before it lands on the grassy plains of central Asia, attention in the module turned to slowing its rate of descent.
Eight minutes later, the spacecraft was streaking through the sky at a rate of 755 feet (230 meters) per second. Before it touched down, its speed slowed to only 5 feet (1.5 meter) per second, and it lands at an even lower speed than that. Several onboard features ensure that the vehicle and crew land safely and in relative comfort.
Four parachutes, deployed 15 minutes before landing, dramatically slowed the vehicle's rate of descent. Two pilot parachutes were the first to be released, and a drogue chute attached to the second one followed immediately after. The drogue, measuring 24 square meters (258 square feet) in area, slowed the rate of descent from 755 feet (230 meters) per second to 262 feet (80 meters) per second.
The main parachute was the last to emerge. It is the largest chute, with a surface area of 10,764 square feet (1,000 square meters). Its harnesses shifted the vehicle's attitude to a 30-degree angle relative to the ground, dissipating heat, and then shifted it again to a straight vertical descent prior to landing.
The main chute slowed the Soyuz to a descent rate of only 24 feet (7.3 meters) per second, which is still too fast for a comfortable landing. One second before touchdown, two sets of three small engines on the bottom of the vehicle fired, slowing the vehicle to soften the landing.

Graphics / Photos

Soyuz TMA spacecraft Soyuz TMA landing module
crew in training Soyuz TMA-21 integration
Soyuz TMA-21 rollout Soyuz TMA-21 on launch pad
Soyuz TMA-21 launch Soyuz TMA-21 landing
Soyuz TMA-21 recovery  


Last update on March 24, 2021.