BACK TO EARTH SAFELY
Back to earth the astronauts and cosmonauts have returned, safely. This article over the last three days covers the command handover to the landing.
ASTRONAUTS AND COSMONAUTS RETURN TO EARTH
Three members of the International Space Station’s Expedition 57 crew, including NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, returned back to Earth Thursday, safely landing at 12:02 a.m. EST (11:02 a.m. local time) in Kazakhstan.
Auñón-Chancellor and her crewmates, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev, launched June 6 and arrived at the space station two days later to begin their mission.
The Expedition 57 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the world-class orbiting laboratory. Highlights included investigations into new cancer treatment methods and algae growth in space. The crew also installed a new Life Sciences Glovebox, a sealed work area for life science and technology investigations that can accommodate two astronauts.
During the 197 days, they circled the globe 3,152 times, covering 83.3 million miles. This was the first flight for Auñón-Chancellor and Prokopyev and the second for Gerst, who – with a total of 362 days in orbit – now holds the flight duration record among ESA astronauts.
For the last 16 days of her mission, Auñón-Chancellor was joined by fellow NASA astronaut Anne McClain, marking the first time in which the only two U.S. astronauts on a mission were both women.
Prokopyev completed two spacewalks totaling 15 hours and 31 minutes. He and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos launched four small technology satellites and installed an experiment during a spacewalk Aug. 15. Then during a 7 hour, 45 minute spacewalk Dec. 11, he and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos retrieved patch samples and took digital images of a repair made to the habitation module of the Soyuz MS-09 in which the Expedition 57 trio rode home. The space station crew located and, within hours of its detection, repaired a small hole inside the Soyuz in August. The spacecraft was thoroughly checked and deemed safe for return to Earth.
Auñón-Chancellor will return home to Houston, Gerst will return to Cologne, Germany, and Prokopyev will return to Star City, Russia, following post-landing medical checks and research activities.
The Expedition 58 crew continues operating the station, with Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos in command. Along with his crewmates Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, the three-person crew will operate the station for a little more than two months until three additional crew members launch Feb. 28, 2019 to join them.
BACK TO EARTH PREPARATIONS
NASA Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos undocked from the International Space Station at 8:40 p.m. EST to begin their trip home.
Deorbit burn is scheduled for approximately 11:10 p.m., with landing in Kazakhstan targeted for 12:03 a.m. Thursday (11:03 p.m. local time). NASA will resume coverage on TV and online at 10:45 p.m. for deorbit burn and landing.
At the time of undocking, Expedition 58 began aboard the space station under the command of Roscosmos’ Oleg Kononenko. Along with his crewmates Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, the three-person crew will operate the station for a little more than two months.
Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos will launch aboard Soyuz MS-12 Feb. 28, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, to join their fellow crewmates following a six-hour journey. Expedition 59 will begin when the new trio docks to the space station.
TRIO BOARDS SOYUZ FOR TRIP BACK HOME
At 5:30 p.m. EST, the hatch closed between the Soyuz spacecraft and the International Space Station in preparation for undocking. NASA Flight Engineer Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are scheduled to undock their Soyuz at 8:40 p.m.
NASA Television will air live coverage of the undocking beginning at 7:45 p.m.
Their landing in Kazakhstan is targeted for approximately 12:03 a.m. Thursday (11:03 a.m. Kazakhstan time) and will conclude a more than six month mission conducting science and maintenance aboard the space station, in which they circled the globe 3,152 times, covering 83.3 million miles.
COMMANDER HANDS OVER CONTROL IN STANDARD CEREMONY
The Expedition 57 commander handed over control of the International Space Station today in a traditional ceremony. He and two of his crewmates will then head back to Earth Wednesday just in time for the holidays.Commander Alexander Gerst ceremonially transferred command of the orbital lab today to cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko who officially begins his lead of the station when the homebound crew undocks tomorrow. Kononenko is staying behind with Expedition 58 Flight Engineers Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques who will stay on the station until June.
Gerst and Flight Engineers Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Sergey Prokopyev are winding down their 197-day mission in space. The trio will undock from the Rassvet module inside the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft Wednesday at 8:40 p.m. and parachute to a landing in Kazakhstan about three-and-a-half hours later.
Prokopyev will command the Soyuz flight back to Earth tomorrow flanked by Gerst and Auñón-Chancellor. Today he is packing and readying the spacecraft for the departure. The undocking and landing activities will be broadcast live on NASA TV.
There was still time for science on the orbital lab today as Gerst explored how astronauts manipulate objects in space. Results could improve the design of space habitats and impact neurology patients on Earth. He also joined Auñón-Chancellor for ultrasound scans and blood sample collections as they wrap up their human research studies.
For landing coverage and more information about the mission, visit: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Get space station news, images and features via social media on Instagram at: @iss, ISS on Facebook, and on Twitter @Space_Station and @ISS_Research.
Written By: Mark Garcia NASA
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