Hatch of Soyuz capsule nearly burned up; crew was in serious danger

The crew of the Soyuz capsule that landed in Kazakhstan hundreds of kilometers (miles) off-target after an unexpectedly severe descent was in serious danger, a Russian news agency reported. Interfax quoted an unidentified space official Tuesday as saying that the capsule entered the atmosphere improperly, with the hatch-first, instead of with its heat shields leading the way. As a result, the hatch suffered significant damage. The official said the TMA-11 capsule's antenna burned up during the descent, meaning the crew couldn't communicate properly with Russian Mission Control. Also damaged was part of the valve that equalizes pressure inside and outside the capsule. Interfax said the official was involved in the investigation into Saturday's landing.