An American, a Russian and a German returned from the International Space Station late Sunday night on Nov. 9, landing in Kazakhstan after spending 165 days in orbit.
“What a ride it has been,” NASA astronaut Reid Weisman exclaimed and wrote on Twitter just before he, Roscosmos cosmonaut Maxim Suraev and European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst closed the hatch separating their Russian Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft from the International Space Station at 4:27 p.m. EST (2127 GMT) Sunday.
Three hours later, the three Expedition 40/41 crewmates undocked Soyuz from the orbiting laboratory’s Rassvet mini research module, setting off for their return journey to home i.e. Earth. Monitoring their departure from onboard the station were Expedition 42 commander Butch Wilmore and cosmonauts Alexander Samokutyayev and Elena Serova, who arrived at the International Space Station in September.
The Soyuz crew performed a 4-minute, 41-second engine burn at 10:05 p.m. EST (0305 GMT on Nov. 10), slowing the craft and causing it to fall out of orbit.
After re-entering the atmosphere and descending under a parachute, Wiseman, Suraev and Gerst touched down on the frigid steppe of Kazakhstan at 10:58 p.m. EST (0358 GMT; 9:58 a.m. Kazakh local time on Nov. 10), northeast of the remote town of Arkalyk.
The three space flyers were provided brief medical checks before being flown to the Kazakh town of Kustanai for a traditional welcome ceremony. From there, Wiseman and Gerst were to be flown by a NASA jet to Scotland, where the two will part ways: Gerst will depart for the European Space Agency while Wiseman flies to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Suraev will be flown directly from Kustanai to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, located outside of Moscow.