This Father's Day, three astronauts are celebrating in space, while three newly returned astronauts celebrate on Earth
British astronaut Tim Peake, American astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko returned to Earth early Saturday morning (June 18) after six months in space; each will be returning to children at home: Peake and Kopra have two kids each (Peake's were ages 4 and 6 at the time of launch), and Malenchenko has one.
This was Peake's first spaceflight, and thus his first re-entry and return to his family, and Kopra's second. Malenchenko, who piloted the Soyuz spacecraft for the astronauts' return, will be landing for the sixth time. [Best Space Gifts for Dads and Grads]
American astronaut Jeff Williams, who has two sons and three grandchildren, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka (two young children) and Alexey Ovchinin (one young child), will be staying on the space station for another three months.
Luckily, they'll be able to catch up easily, far from home: The space station inhabitants can communicate by email and frequently post on social media, and they can use a satellite Internet Protocol phone. Hopefully, they'll have more luck than Peake, who dialed the wrong number on Christmas Eve.
A fresh trio of crewmembers will join the three astronauts still in space in early July: first-time fliers Kate Rubins, an American astronaut, and Takuya Onishi, a Japanese astronaut, as well as Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin.
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Sarah Lewin started writing for Space.com in June of 2015 as a Staff Writer and became Associate Editor in 2019 . Her work has been featured by Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Quanta Magazine, Wired, The Scientist, Science Friday and WGBH's Inside NOVA. Sarah has an MA from NYU's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program and an AB in mathematics from Brown University. When not writing, reading or thinking about space, Sarah enjoys musical theatre and mathematical papercraft. She is currently Assistant News Editor at Scientific American. You can follow her on Twitter @SarahExplains.