Space Station Sunday: Soyuz Sails Home

Good afternoon, space fans!  It’s been another week of excellence from the orbital office!  Here’s what was up…


Welcome home Jeff, Anatoly, and Oleg!
(Image courtesy NASA.gov.)

This week, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka swooped down from the heavens back into the grasp of gravity.  On Tuesday, after a 4-hour ride home from the ISS, they landed safely in Kazahkstan after 172 days in space.  Williams, the former ISS commander,  has completed one space shuttle missions and three station missions, attaining 534 cumulative days in space – the record for an American astronaut.


Through the fire:  the returning crew's Soyuz spacecraft reenters the atmosphere.
(Image courtesy NASA.gov.)


Before leaving the station, Williams examined the BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activities Module) for air and surface samples.  The expandable module was added to the station in April, and creates an inflatable extra "room" for the crew.  The samples indicated that all was well in the new digs, and it will be reassessed in coming months by the impending new crew.


They practiced by inflating their space suits.
(Image courtesy NASA.gov.)

The crew members of the upcoming Expedition 49-50 are due to launch for the ISS on September 23rd.  Shane Kimbrough, Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko are currently in Kazahkstan completing pre-launch checks.  The crew will take a 2-day ride on the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft after launching from the Baikonur cosmodrome.  Their mission is scheduled to last until February 27th, 2017.

L-R, Kimbrough, Ryzikov, and Borisenko prepare for liftoff.
(Image courtesy NASA.gov.)

Meanwhile, back way-topside, science and maintenance continued apace on the station.  NASA astronaut Kate Rubins continued her DNA sequencing work, while JAXA astronaut Takuya Onishi cleaned ventilation fans and measured air flow.  Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin gathered data for the Pilot-T experiment, which explores how crew members adapt to the stresses of long-term spaceflight.

We'll miss the imagery from Commander Jeff Williams, but he signed off beautifully!



That's all for this week, space fans.  We'll see you next Sunday with all of the above from all of them above!  Watch this space!


"I will certainly miss this view! But it’s time to return home to the planet
and I do so with a tremendous sense of gratitude toward my crewmates,
 the ground teams, supporting friends around the globe, and my family."
-ISS Commander Jeff Williams.
Thanks for your service, Commander!

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