NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy and Space Station Crewmates Return Safely to Earth

Roscosmos Space Agency NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy sits in a chair shortly after landing near Dzhezkazgan a town in Kazakhstan on Thursday. The Soyuz MS-16 capsule carrying Cassidy along with Anatoly Ivanishin and

A trio of space travellers safely returned to Earth today after a six-month mission on the International Space Station. Ivanishin and Vagner will take a Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft flight to Star City, Russia.

The crew launched just weeks after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic, making them the first crew to launch to space under such conditions, reported CNN. Before leaving, the astronaut had told reporters that she would be registering her mandate in the presidential elections from the space.

The three-man crew underwent brief medical checks soon after landing, although the recovery team meeting them was scaled back due to coronavirus measures.

Rubins arrived in orbit for her second spaceflight on October 14 and will remain on the space station for about six and a half months.

Their departure from the ISS came as three other space travelers - NASA's Kate Rubins and Roscosmos' Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov - began their six-month mission at the outpost last week. Cassidy now has spent a total of 378 days in space, the fifth highest among US astronauts.

A U.S. astronaut has been allowed to cast her ballot from International Space Station 408 kms away from Earth.

At 4:24 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the crew closed the hatch to their Soyuz spacecraft and undocked from the station at 7:32 p.m. ET. The final spacewalk was the 10th for both astronauts, making them two of only four only US astronauts to complete 10 spacewalks.

In November, Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov are expected to greet NASA's SpaceX first operational Crew Dragon mission comprising NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. The small leak has posed no immediate danger to the station's crew, and Roscosmos engineers have been working on a permanent seal.



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