- Two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut have returned from the International Space Station.
- His six-month journey was marked by scientific experiments and crossovers with other astronaut crews.
- See NASA images of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft landing on Saturday.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
A six-month voyage aboard the International Space Station has come to an end for two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut: the three crew members safely returned to Earth amid clear skies around 1 a.m. : 00 am ET on Saturday.
The crew departed for the space station on October 14, 2020, inside a Russian spacecraft called the Soyuz MS-17. His landing marked the end of Expedition 64, or the 64th long-duration expedition to the ISS.
In total, the crew completed about 2,960 Earth orbits.
The flight home lasted less than three and a half hours and the craft landed outside the city of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. NASA captured 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 Sergey Ryzhikov, was the first to exit the spacecraft, followed by the two flight engineers: NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.
From there, the crew underwent medical checks while sitting in chairs so they could re-acclimate to Earth’s climate. They were also able to call friends and family.
Rubins is now ready to fly home to Houston, Texas. Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov will return to their homes in Star City, Russia.
Soyuz MS-17 departure will make room for new astronauts on the ISS
Expedition 64 marked the first time aboard the ISS for Kud-Sverchkov, but the second time for Rubins and Ryzhikov.
Rubins, a microbiologist, became the first person to sequence DNA in space in 2016. She continued her DNA sequencing work during this latest mission, with the ultimate goal of helping astronauts diagnose disease in space or identify microbes. on the space station to see if they pose any health concerns.
Rubins also completed two spacewalks, grew radishes in orbit, and took photos of Hurricane Zeta as it approached Louisiana. To top it all, he studied how changes in gravity affect cardiovascular cells, research that could provide clues to heart problems on Earth.
Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov also conducted hundreds of science experiments aboard the space station.
The crew also had some company: NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts joined them in November and will remain until the end of April. That team consists of three NASA astronauts: Commander Mike Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
Walker is now the station commander for Expedition 65, which began on Friday.
Another Russian spacecraft, Soyuz MS-18, arrived at the ISS on April 9 with two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut on board.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 is scheduled to take off for the space station next Thursday, April 22, bringing the total number of people on board to 11. At most, the ISS has accommodated 13 people at a time. .