Three astronauts who flew to the ISS at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and spent six months in space land safely back on Earth
- Trio are NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Russia’s Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner who landed in Kazakhstan today
- They arrived on the orbiting laboratory on April 9 tand have been away for most of the global pandemic
- In preparation for his return, Mr Cassidy tweeted pics of himself in a facemask saying he was training for returning to a Covid-ravaged world
A trio of space travellers have returned safely to Earth after a six-month mission on the International Space Station.
The Soyuz MS-16 capsule carrying Nasa astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner landed in Kazakhstan this morning.
After a brief medical check-up, the three will be taken to Dzhezkazgan, from where they will depart for home.
A trio of space travellers have returned safely to Earth after a six-month mission on the International Space Station. Pictured, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy
ROSCOSMOS image shows cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin (L) and Ivan Vagner (R) sitting in chairs shortly after the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft descent module safely landed in a remote area outside Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan
NASA’s Chris Cassidy (pictured, left) and Russia’s Anatoly Ivanishin (middle) and Ivan Vagner (right) spent almost 200 days on the ISS after arriving on April 9
The crew smiled as they talked to masked members of the recovery team, and Nasa and Roscosmos reported that they were in good condition.
As part of additional precautions due to coronavirus, the rescue team members meeting the crew were tested for the virus and the number of people involved in the recovery effort was limited.
The trio had spent 196 days in orbit since arriving at the station on April 9.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic had already begun when they arrived, the global health crisis was not as severe as it is now.
In preparation for his return in a Soyuz capsule tomorrow evening, Mr Cassidy tweeted two pictures of himself donning a facemask onboard the space station.
‘Masked up on @Space_Station!’ Mr Cassidy tweeted on October 19, 2020.
‘Training myself for my new reality when I get home on Wednesday.’
The Soyuz MS-16 reentry capsule has successfully landed in the steppe southeast of Zhezkazgan, with the members of the ISS Expedition 63 crew, Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner and NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, returning back to Earth
Pictured, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin gets medical check shortly after landing. The astronauts were sent to space in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and return to a different world
Ground personnel carry Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin. As with all visitors to the International Space Station, Mthe astronauts went into isolation prior to their trip. This precaution helps to ensure that astronauts do not accidentally bring newly contracted diseases on-board the station
The Soyuz capsule landed in an isolated region and staff were on-board helicopters to attend to the returning astronauts
Having been in their own very special ‘social bubble’ for almost six months, three astronauts will return from the International Space Station tomorrow. In preparation for his return in a Soyuz capsule, NASA’s Chris Cassidy tweeted pictures of himself donning a facemask
As with all visitors to the International Space Station, Mr Cassidy and his crewmates went into isolation prior to their trip.
This precaution helps to ensure that astronauts do not accidentally bring newly contracted diseases onboard the station, where they could develop to endanger their health and those of the other crewmembers.
Normally this quarantine last for a couple of weeks prior to lift-off, but given the COVID-19 crisis, Mr Cassidy and colleagues were isolated for a whole month.
As part of Expedition 63, the trio have performed a series of spacewalks, undertaken routine maintenance on the station, carried out various experiments, installed a new space toilet and even identified the source of a mysterious air leak.
Before the crew’s departure, Russian cosmonauts were able to temporarily seal the air leak they tried to locate for several months.
The small leak has posed no immediate danger to the station’s crew, and Roscosmos engineers have been working on a permanent seal.
Nasa’s Kate Rubins and Roscosmos’ Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov arrived at the orbiting outpost a week ago for a six-month stay.
EXPLAINED: THE $100 BILLION INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION SITS 250 MILES ABOVE THE EARTH
The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.
It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.
Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.
ISS studies have investigated human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.
The US space agency, Nasa, spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, a level of funding that is endorsed by the Trump administration and Congress.
A U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees Nasa has begun looking at whether to extend the program beyond 2024.
Alternatively the money could be used to speed up planned human space initiatives to the moon and Mars.