After spending 168 days in low-Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station (ISS), three of the space station’s Expedition 55 crew members including Scott Tingle from the US, Norishige Kanai from Japan, and Anton Shkaplerov from Russia have returned to Earth.
The trio left the ISS on board a Russian Soyuz space capsule that landed safely on Sunday at around 8:39 am ET (6:39 pm Kazakh time) in the steppes of Kazakhstan. All the three astronauts were taken out from the capsule within 30 minutes.
Footage released by the Russian space agency Roscosmos showed the Soyuz capsule carrying the three touchdown as recovery helicopters circled over the landing site. Anton Shkaplerov was the first to be taken out from the capsule. Tingle came out next followed by Kanai.
“We are a bit tired but happy with what we have accomplished and happy to be back on Earth,” Shkaplerov said after coming out. “We are glad the weather is sunny.”
Shkaplerov has spent a total of 532 days in space on three flights, while for Tingle and Kanai it was their first mission. The trio has performed hundreds of experiments in the space, including materials testing, research into plant growth in space and a study of the effect of microgravity on the bone marrow. Tingle and Kanai were also responsible for several spacewalks while on the ISS.
The astronauts have brought a football along with them that will likely be used in the opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow. The international football federation FIFA is yet to confirm the information.
The U.S. orbiting space station is currently home to three Expedition 55 crewmembers including Americans Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold and Russian Oleg Artemyev. Notably, another three astronauts namely US astronaut Serena Aunon, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopyev, and German astronaut Alexander Gerst will be launched to the space station on Wednesday from the Baikonur complex in Kazakhstan.