Russian spacecraft Soyuz finally made a touchdown on Earth with three astronomers. NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko have spent almost six months in space during their flight.
According to Space, those three astronauts started their journey for Expedition 49/50 mission in October 2016 with Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. after spending 173 days on International Space Station(ISS) they reached the solid ground of Kazakhstan on April 10 at 7:20 a.m. EDT (1120 GMT).
Rob Navias, who was the spokesperson of NASA, commented during live NASA TV commentary after the landing,“The Soyuz was pulled by its main parachute onto its side, but the crew was quickly extracted and are in good shape”. he also defined the touchdown as the textbook touchdown.
On April 9, before boarding on the Soyuz rocket Shane Kimbrough transferred the responsibility of command to NASA astronomer Peggy Whitson. However, it is not the first time Whitson is taking charge. In 2008, she became the first female commander of ISS.
News 18 reported that the undocking process was started from 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT). It took almost three hours to close the hatches completely. After getting detached from the station Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft started its main engine at 6:28 a.m. EDT (1028 GMT).
To leave the orbit and enter Earth’s atmosphere, astronauts had to fire its main engine for to slow down the spacecraft by 420 feet per second. Soyuz was designed to reach the space station within six hours, but this time crew members were testing some features on the upgraded MS-02 model, so they took the longer route.
It was the first experience of Ryzhikov to work as space traveler and Soyuz is the only spacecraft that can carry humans and attach itself to the station. Int their next plan on April 20, NASA is planning to set another mission for ISS to install another dock station to attach commercial vehicles.