Space Station Crew Returns to Earth Tonight: How to Watch Live

Three space travelers will depart from the International Space Station (ISS) tonight after a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory. 

Cramped inside a small Soyuz space capsule, NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik, European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli and Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryazanskiy will undock from the ISS early tomorrow morning (Dec. 14) at 12:14 a.m. EST (0514 GMT). You can watch their journey home live here on, courtesy of NASA TV. 

NASA TV will begin airing live coverage at 8:30 p.m. today (Dec. 13) as the members of the spacefaring trio bid farewell to the three remaining crewmembers, settle into the Soyuz capsule and close the hatch. After the crew undocks from the space station's Rassvet module, the travelers will spend about 3.5 hours heading back to Earth. [Space Station Photos: Expedition 53 Mission Crew in Orbit]

Expedition 53 crewmembers Randy Bresnik of NASA (right), Paolo Nespoli of the European Space Agency (center) and Sergey Ryazanskiy of Russia's Roscosmos agency are seen inside their Soyuz MS-05 space capsule wearing Sokol spacesuits as they prepare to return to Earth on Dec. 14, 2017. (Image credit: NASA)

The Soyuz spacecraft is scheduled to begin its deorbit burn at 2:44 a.m. EST (0744 GMT), about 2.5 hours after detaching from the space station. It will touch down in a remote area near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 3:38 a.m. EST (0838 GMT). 

Bresnik, Nespoli and Ryazanskiy launched to the ISS on July 28 in the same Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft that will bring them back to Earth tonight.

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.