Reports say Iowa astronaut Peggy Whitson and her crew were in mortal danger during last weekend’s return to earth. The Russian-made capsule came down Saturday at a very steep angle, so steep, the crew was subjected to ten-Gs, or ten times the force of gravity.
Worse yet, the capsule was pointed the wrong way as it fell. Instead of having the heat shields leading the way, the Soyuz was blazing through the atmosphere hatch first. Space program officials in Russia say the hatch was significantly damaged during reentry and the antenna burned up, severing most communication with the ground.
The Soyuz landed nearly 300 miles off target in Kazakhstan. It took recovery teams 45 minutes to get there. Whitson, a Beaconsfield native, and the two crewmen were said to be shaken by the ride but weren’t seriously hurt.