Friday morning at approximately 4:49 A.M. Eastern time, three astronauts aboard the International Space Station boarded a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to return to Earth. During that time, the spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station and started hurdling towards Earth.
The astronauts, who were all flight engineers, included United States’ Kjell Lindgren, Russia’s Oleg Kononenko, and Japan’s Kimiya Yui, made a safe landing just North of Kazakhstan Friday morning at 8:12 A.M. Eastern time.
NASA’s Kjell Kindgren and JAXA’s Kimiya Yui had been aboard the International Space Station for a grand total of 141 days, and Roscosmos’ Oleg Kononenko just spent his 533rd day in space across three separate missions; they all performed experiments, research, and observations of Earth, and helped contribute to our knowledge of physical, biological, and molecular science in space.
“While on station, the crew members participated in Earth observations and conducted research in the areas of physical, biological and molecular science to advance knowledge and demonstrate new technologies,” NASA said in a statement on Facebook Friday morning. “Such investigations enable research breakthroughs and drive technology innovations that provide benefits on Earth, and will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration missions into deep space.”
The return of these astronauts puts an end to Expedition 45, and Expedition 46 still remains aboard the International Space Station, composing of NASA’s Scott Kelly, Roscosmos’ Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov. They will continue their jobs as we here on Earth prepare to send another set of astronauts to the International Space Station to join them.
Among those who will be joining the astronauts and cosmonauts currently aboard the International Space Station in just four more days (December 15th, 2015), are NASA’s Tim Kopra, Roscosmos’ Yuri Malenchenko, and ESA’s Tim Peake. They will blast off inside of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
Once there, they will continue where the astronauts before them left off, continuing research and experiments so that we can have a better understanding of our universe. The constant rotation of astronauts from time to time is important for their health in the long run, and is why no astronaut spends too much time in space at one time.
Source: NASA (1), (2)