On Friday, June 2, two crew members of the International Space Station made their journey back home on a Soyuz capsule. French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Novitsky landed back on Earth after a 196-day mission aboard the space station.
The Soyuz spacecraft carrying both astronauts landed 90 miles east of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 10:10 a.m. EDT. The touchdown was not as smooth as the crew had planned, but both were unhurt and looked to be in good spirits after their return.
The ESA posted a tweet informing the public of the safe return of the two crew members from the ISS.
— ESA (@esa) 2 June 2017
Soyuz Lands With Two ISS Crew Members
The two astronauts left the ISS around 6:47 a.m. EDT on June 2 and while re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere, the Soyuz turned 180 degrees and fired its engines to decelerate. The extreme air pressure during the re-entry caused some discomfort to Pesquet and Novitsky, as the temperature inside the cabin increased.
As the Soyuz descended further into the Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft’s 1,000-square-meter parachute deployed to steady the capsule and decrease the speed at which it was traveling. The capsule’s heat shield and outer windows were dislodged when it was around 3.1 miles up. Post the parachute was deployed, the capsule’s speed went down to roughly 14 miles per hour.
The rockets also fired up to slow down the acceleration. A few feet off the ground, the capsule’s speed was reduced to around 3 miles per hour, before it finally touched down.
The two-man crew was quickly taken out of the capsule and taken to medical centers to undergo physical checkups. The astronauts were also given the opportunity to make satellite calls to family and friends, informing them of their safe arrival.
Novitsky And Pesquet’s Achievements At The ISS
The two ISS crew members spent 196 days 17 hours and 49 minutes off the planet on their present tour. During their stay at the ISS, the two helped welcome five vehicles, including four cargo carrying ships and a crew ferry flight. Pesquet participated in two spacewalks during this time, totaling 12 hours and 32 minutes.
Novitsky’s total time spent in space was 340 days, over two different missions. Both men seemed to be in good health when they were taken out of the Soyuz. They were smiling and chatting with officials who helped them.
“It was a great adventure. Just want to say for me and Oleg, we were really proud to be part of such a team and fly with Peggy. Peggy’s a legend, but she’s also absolutely unbelievable to work with or just hang around with, live with in space,” Pesquet said about his experience aboard the ISS and working with NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.