After six months in orbit, three (3) crew members of the International Space Station (ISS) have safely returned to earth, landing in Kazakhstan.
|L-R, Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams of NASA and Soyuz Commander Alexey prior to their landing in Kazakhstan Wednesday 07/09/2016|
Expedition Commander Jeff Williams returns as the US record holder for time spent in orbit, logging 534 days on the ISS over four trips - beating Scott Kelly’s record. The mission included installing a vital docking port for future commercial spacecraft. This was the first mission for Soyuz Commander Alexey Ovchinin.
“And of course one of the very important tasks on the space station for us is the maintenance of the station systems, to keep it functioning. About 40 percent of time on the station was spent doing scientific experiments.”
They talked with reporters at the Johnson Space Center six months ago, before their mission. Veterans like Williams say it’s fun observing someone’s maiden voyage.
“Of course, first time you experience it, it’s far beyond what you can imagine. And it’s just a lot of fun to be with a person, watching them go through those experiences for the first time. And then maybe give them a little ‘hey, this is coming up, this is what’s gonna — make sure you pay attention to this.”
|Touchdown at Kazakhstan Wednesday 07/09/2016|
“If you need to give something (to) another crew member, you just take it and push it slightly and it goes to you. There’s no problem. On the ground, if you do it like this, it just drops on the floor!”
The returning ISS crew members will be replaced by an astronaut and two cosmonauts, who are scheduled to blast off on September 23rd. Williams and his Russian colleagues circled the earth 2,752 times before landing in Kazakhstan.