The latest Soyuz spacecraft returned safely to Earth today, carrying three astronauts who had been living on the International Space Station (ISS) for some period of time. Two NASA astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut were the passengers.
The Russian Federation has been the only spacefaring nation running men and women into space since the US Space Shuttle Program ended in July, 2011. The Russians use the Soyuz FG launch vehicle for these missions, which itself is a “tried and true” spaceflight system with no operational errors to date.
The astronauts landed today in Kazakhstan around 02.31 UTC or 08.31 Kazakh time, approximately 146 kilometers southeast of Zhezkazgan, located in about the center of Kazakhstan.
The astronauts were all reported in good health and are preparing to debrief from their mission before returning to their homes.
Replacing them on the ISS for the current mission is the crew of Expedition 54, consisting of American Scott Tingle, Japanese astronaut Koroshige Tanai, and Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov. They will live and work on the International Space Station until April of this year before the next crew replaces them.