Three space travelers are safely back on Earth after a 115-day stay on the International Space Station.
Returning on a Russian Soyuz space capsule, U.S. astronaut Kate Rubins of NASA, Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 49 Commander Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi landed near Kazakhstan at 9:58 a.m. local time on Sunday (Oct. 30), or 11:58 p.m. EDT (0358 GMT). You can see how the landing went in this NASA video.
"Touchdown confirmed," NASA spokesman Rob Navias said during the agency's landing webcast commentary. "After a journey of 115 days and 48.9 million miles, the Expedition 49 crew is home."
The spacecraft's departure from the station at 8:35 EDT (0035 GMT) marked the end of Expedition 49 and the start of Expedition 50. The three station crew members launched to the station together on July 6.
This was the first spaceflight for Rubins and Onishi. Ivanishin flew to the station in 2011 as a member of Expeditions 29 and 30. During her time in orbit, Rubins participated in a spacewalk to install an international docking adapter, which will allow commercial vehicles to dock with the station in coming years. She also became the first person ever to sequence DNA in space.
When questioned my members of the landing recovery team, Rubins said she was feeling "better than expected" after the landing.
"What do you need right now," one team member asked.
"To sit here and enjoy the Earth," Rubins replied.
Ivanishin handed over command of the station yesterday (Oct. 28) to NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, who remains on the station with Russian cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov.
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Calla Cofield joined Space.com's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Space.com Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left Space.com to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter