Three crew members from the space station return to Earth aboard the Soyuz

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The nave Soyuz MS-16, with three crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) on board, it successfully landed on Thursday in the Kazakh steppe, the Russian Space Flight Control Center reported.

The descent capsule made landfall at 02.54 GMT (almost 5:00 a.m. on the Spanish peninsula) about 150 kilometers southeast of the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan with cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Iván Vágner and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy on board.

The three crew members remained six months on the international orbital platform, where they left behind the Russian cosmonauts Sergei Rízhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, and the American astronaut Kathleen Rubins, who start mission 64 aboard the ISS.

Last Tuesday, Cassidy handed over command of the ISS to Rízhikov.

3,000 orbits to Earth

The crew members of the Soyuz MS-16 thus ended a 196 day mission which spanned 3,136 Earth orbits, according to NASA.

Cassidy completed her third flight and accumulated a total of 378 days in space, which is the fifth place in duration among American astronauts.

Ivashin completed his third flight with his return to Earth and adds a total of 476 days, while for Vágner it was the first mission.

Now the three will be transferred by Russian helicopters to the recovery center in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, and from there Cassidy will get on a NASA plane to return to Houston.

His two Russian companions in turn will be transported on a plane from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center to Star City, outside Moscow.

Transport by Elon Musk

During their time at the ISS the three welcomed Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who arrived at the Crew Dragon capsule of the aerospace transport company SpaceX, owned by businessman Elon Musk.

They were the first NASA astronauts to be launched to the ISS from the United States aboard a American ship and rocket since the end of the shuttle program on July 8, 2011.

Now, the three crew members who remain on the orbital platform, Rízhikov, Kud-Sverchkov and Rubins, will witness the scheduled arrival for November 1 of SpaceX’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission, which will take NASA astronauts to the ISS Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi from Japan.



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