After 115 days on the International Space Station, three astronauts are finally back on Earth. On board the Russian Soyuz MS-01 space capsule, they landed in a remote area near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Sunday, October 30.
Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, Kate Rubins of NASA, and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency all made it to the ground safely. They separated from the ISS somewhere over Mongolia. The trip took approximately three-and-a-half hours.
Russian recovery teams helped the astronauts leave the spacecraft when it had landed, and assisted them in adjusting to gravity by using wheelchairs. Rubins and Onishi will be flying back to Houston, Texas on a NASA jet, while Ivanishin will return to his training headquarters at Star City in Russia, Nature World News reports.
A NASA spokesperson said,
Touchdown confirmed. After a journey of 115 days and 48.9 million miles, the Expedition 49 crew is home.
Expedition 49 was a mission that contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, physical and Earth sciences, and biotechnology while aboard the ISS. Ivanishivin had been a member of Expeditions 29 and 30, and had previously flown to the ISS back in 2011. Rubins and Onishi were first-timers.
During her stay in space, Rubins completed the first DNA sequencing in space using the Biomolecule Sequencer MinION from the UK. She likewise conducted a spacewalk with others to install an international docking adapter that will soon let commercial spacecraft dock at the station in the future, and another walk to install new HD cameras and repair a thermal control radiator.
The crew snagged cargo from three ships delivering supplies and equipment to the ISS, including the latest Orbital ATK’s Cygnus craft, and also welcomed new astronauts for Expedition 50 before leaving.
The new mission is headed by NASA’s Shane Kimbrough, with crew members Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscomos. They will soon be joined by three more crew members in three weeks, NASA said.