Three Expedition 59 crewmembers are returning to Earth today (June 24) after spending more than six months at the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques will depart the space station in their Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft at 7:25 p.m. EDT (2325 GMT).
About three and a half hours later, they will parachute down to the steppe of Kazakhstan and touch down southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan at approximately 10:47 p.m. EDT, or 8:47 a.m. local time (0247 GMT) on June 25. You can watch their departure and landing live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.
Before the crew climbs into the Soyuz, they will say farewell to the three remaining astronauts on board: NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. Live coverage of their farewells will begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT), and the crew is scheduled to close the hatch to the Soyuz at 4:10 p.m. EDT (2010 GMT).
After the crew gets situated inside their vessel, live coverage of the undocking will begin at 7 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT), or 25 minutes before the spacecraft is scheduled to depart the orbiting laboratory. The Soyuz will continue to orbit Earth while drifting farther from the station for about 2 hours and 30 minutes before the deorbit burn begins. At that time, the Soyuz will fire its engines and begin the plunge into Earth's atmosphere. The deorbit burn begins at 9:55 p.m. EDT (0155 GMT on June 25), or 53 minutes before the scheduled landing.
McClain, Kononenko and Saint-Jacques launched to the space station together on Dec. 3 and will return in the same spacecraft in which they launched. At the time, they had joined the Expedition 58 mission, but they transitioned to Expedition 59 in March after the arrival of the Soyuz MS-12 that brought up Hague, Koch and Ovchinin.
McClain, Kononenko and Saint-Jacques will have spent a total of 204 days in space, during which they went around the Earth 3,264 times and covered a distance of about 86.4 million miles (139 million kilometers).
- Russia's Crewed Soyuz Space Capsule Explained (Infographic)
- International Space Station: Facts, History & Tracking
- Expedition 59: The Space Station Mission in Photos