Veteran Station Crew Returns to Earth after Historic Mission

Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly
Year in Space crew members Mikhail Kornienko (left) and Scott Kelly work with tiny free-floating satellites known as SPHERES back in January.

Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly of NASA, and Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov of Roscosmos landed their Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 11:26 p.m. EST. Russian recovery teams will help the crew exit the Soyuz vehicle and adjust to gravity after their stay in space.

Kelly and Kornienko launched to the space station on March 27, 2015, for their one-year mission. The pair’s return on March 1 marks the end of 340 days aboard the space station and almost 143 million miles during their time in space, roughly the same average distance between Earth and Mars.

With Kelly, Kornienko and Volkov landing in Kazakhstan, Kelly has logged 520 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on space shuttle mission STS-103 in 1998. Kornienko has spent 516 days in space on two flights, the first of which was on Expedition 23/24 in 2010. Volkov arrived at the station on September 4 and has spent 548 days in space on three flights, the first of which was in 2008.

Expedition 47 Commander Tim Kopra of NASA, Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, and Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) remain aboard the station to continue research and maintenance. The remainder of the Expedition 47 crew, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skriprochka and Alexey Ovchinin, is scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on March 18.

The one-year mission will provide new insights into how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation and stress of long-duration spaceflight. The science will continue for months and years as the data are collected and analyzed, an important step in the first phase of NASA’s efforts to prepare humanity for the journey to Mars. Such Earth-reliant exploration will lead to more complex operations in orbit around the moon where NASA will demonstrate, advance, and validate the capabilities and technologies we will need to send humans to Mars.

13 thoughts on “Veteran Station Crew Returns to Earth after Historic Mission”

  1. Wow great achievement guys I look for the iss every day. Hope everything went as planned.
    God bless you all.

  2. My name is Mrs. Tenney. I teach 4th graders at Garrison Mill Elementary in Georgia. We are excited to learn o f your mission to Space. We would love to go to Mars one day, well not ALL of us but many want to go! Keep up the great work so that someday we can buy a ticket to go on this adventure!

    Thank you for all you do for mankind.

    Mrs. Kathy Tenney and 4th Grade class

  3. Hi I’m from Durban South Africa, just wanna say thanks Commander Scott Kelly for all the Awesome pictures. Glad you back on Earth safe. Blessings to you.

  4. I watched the return of the Soyuz last night on NASA TV for the first time. Quite honestly I was very surprised at how seemingly unprofessional the retrieval was by the Russians. No LIVE TV until after the landing and poor shooting afterwards. The activity looked haphazard and unruly with no professional operations that I could see. I have always marveled at how well NASA and the military recovered the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules and of course the Shuttle arrivals. Everyone was in clean uniform, they each had a job to do and did it well and we always got great TV coverage including the actual splashdown. Even the Russian equipment looked like vintage WWII. I will be glad when Kelly is back at Johnson Space Center tonight and on American soil. I admire his fortitude and professionalism and look forward to a possible press conference when he settles in. I also can’t wait for the “Dragon” to take over!

    1. As far as I could see, people who was there, in a remote location in the meddle of nowhere seemed to be very kind and professional, although simple at the same time.

  5. What you are doing has got to be one of the most important things for all of mankind. It will pave the way for the people of tomorrow to preserve our species and allow our earth to recover from our environmental impact. What you are doing is life saving.

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