- Two Russian astronauts and a NASA astronaut have returned from the International Space Station.
- Their six-month journey was marked by scientific experiments and crossovers with other astronaut crews.
- See footage from NASA touching the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft on Saturday.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
A six-month voyage aboard the International Space Station ended for two Russian astronauts and a NASA astronaut: The three crew members returned safely to Earth amid clear skies at around 1:00 a.m. Saturday.
The crew left for the space station on October 14, 2020 in the Russian spacecraft called “Soyuz MS-17”
In total, the crew completed about 2960 orbits around the Earth.
The flight home took less than three and a half hours, with the spacecraft touching the city of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. NASA took footage of the crew’s smooth descent (starting about an hour and 14 minutes in the video below):
As soon as the crew landed, Russian search and rescue teams rushed to help them out. The crew commander, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Ryzhikov, first stepped out of the spacecraft, followed by two onboard engineers: NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonaut Sergei Kud-Sverchkov.
From there, the crew undergoes medical examinations, sitting on chairs to be able to adapt to the Earth’s climate. They also managed to call friends and family.
Rubins will now fly home to Houston, Texas. Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will return to their homes in Star City, Russia.
The take-off of the Soyuz MS-17 will make room for new ISS astronauts
Expedition 64 marked the first time on board the ISS for Kud-Sverchkov, but the second time for Rubins and Rizhikov.
Rubins, a microbiologist, became the first person to sequence DNA in space in 2016. She continued her work on DNA sequencing during this latest mission, with the ultimate goal of helping astronauts diagnose diseases in space or identify microbes in space. station to see if they cause any health problems.
Rubins also completed two space voyages, growing radishes in orbit and taking pictures of Hurricane Zeta as it approached Louisiana. On top of that, she studied how changes in gravity affect cardiovascular cells, a study that could provide clues to Earth’s heart problems.
Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov have also conducted hundreds of scientific experiments aboard the space station.
The crew also had company: NASA SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts joined them in November and will remain until the end of April. The team consists of three NASA astronauts – Commander Mike Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover and mission specialist Shannon Walker – as well as Japanese Aerospace Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
Walker is now the commander of Expedition 65, which began on Friday.
Another Russian Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft arrived on the ISS on April 9 with two Russian astronauts and a NASA astronaut on board.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 will take off for the space station next Thursday, April 22, bringing the total number of people on board to 11. The ISS has held a maximum of 13 people at a time.