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In Photos: Record-Breaking Astronaut Peggy Whitson Returns to Earth

Soyuz MS-04 Landing
(Image: © Bill Ingalls/NASA)

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Bill Ingalls/NASA

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying NASA's record-breaking astronaut Peggy Whitson, rookie NASA astronaut Jack Fischer and Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017. [Full Story: Astronaut Peggy Whitson Ends Record-Breaking Space Mission with Smooth Landing]

Landing Preparations

Bill Ingalls/NASA

Search and rescue teams deployed from the Karaganda Airport in Kazakhstan to Zhezkazgan to prepare for the arrival of the three crewmembers in the Soyuz MS-04 space capsule.

Flying to Zhezkazgan

Bill Ingalls/NASA

Oleg Orlov, director of the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems, looks out the window of an AN-26 aircraft as support teams pre-position to Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan ahead of the landing.

Search & Rescue Teams Arrive

Bill Ingalls/NASA

A bus carrying members of the search and rescue teams arrive in Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.

Helicopters Arrive on the Scene

Bill Ingalls/NASA

Early in the morning on Saturday, Sept. 2, helicopter search and rescue teams prepared to deploy ahead of the Soyuz MS-04 landing.

In the Air

Bill Ingalls/NASA

Russian search and rescue teams fly an Mi-8 helicopter and search the horizon for the Soyuz MS-04 capsule.

Watching from the Window Seat

Bill Ingalls/NASA

Andrey Shelepin (left), a photographer for the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, and Aleksey Lukiyanov, head of the Search-and-Rescue Department of Rosaviatsiya (Russian Federal Air Transport Agency), look out the window from inside one of the helicopters that watched the Soyuz MS-04 land in Kazakhstan.

The Soyuz Appears!

Bill Ingalls/NASA

The Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft carrying Peggy Whitson, Jack Fischer and Fyodor Yurchikhin parachutes down through the atmosphere before coming in for a landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Cruising Down to Earth

Bill Ingalls/NASA

The Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft carrying Peggy Whitson, Jack Fischer and Fyodor Yurchikhin parachutes down through the atmosphere before coming in for a landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Soyuz Close-Up

Bill Ingalls/NASA

A clear view of the Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft as it descended toward its landing site on the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Soft-Landing Engines Fired

Bill Ingalls/NASA

The Soyuz MS-04 safely touched down after a nearly 3.5-hour trip from the International Space Station. What looks like an explosion beneath the spacecraft is nothing dangerous. The spacecraft's six soft-landing engines fired just seconds before touchdown to help slow down the fall.

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