Space Station Astronauts Return to Earth Tonight: Watch It Live!

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, courtesy of NASA TV. 

Related: Experience a Soyuz Spacecraft Landing with This Amazing 360-Degree, VR Video

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques (right) will return to Earth from the International Space Station on June 24, 2019. (Image credit: NASA)

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). 

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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.