An American astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts are back on solid ground this morning. The three spent 167 days in orbit at the International Space Station.
“I’m glad to be back,” NASA astronaut Barry ‘Butch’ Wilmore said after being pulled out of the Russian Soyuz space capsule. The Soyuz capsule pierced a thick layer of fog before landing in icy Kazakhstan.
Check out their beautiful view before they landed.
Here’s another fantastic shot showing the capsule’s parachute as the capsule itself is obscured by fog.
Barry Wilmore, Alexander Samokutyaev and Elena Serova travelled 71 million miles during their 5-month stay on the ISS.
For Serova, it was her first trip to space. And, she became just the fourth Russian woman to fly in space.
Samokutyaev is no stranger to space. This was his second career flight and he has spent 331 days high above the Earth. He took pleasure in the simple things. “I am drinking tea with real lemon,” he said. “It’s great.”
This was Wilmore’s second flight in space and he has spent a total of 178 days in orbit.
The three leave behind NASA astronaut Terry Virts, cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov and European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Wilmore passed command of the space station to Virts in a ceremony earlier this week.
Virts, Shkaplerov and Cristoforetti won’t be by themselves for long. NASA’s Scott Kelly along with cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka will join them on March 27.
The March 27th flight will start the first year-long mission on the ISS. Kornienko and Kelly will spend a year aboard the International Space Station. Cosmonauts are no stranger to spending a full year in space, but it will be a first for an American. NASA calls it an important milestone to an eventual mission to Mars.
Ever wonder what it’s like inside a Soyuz capsule as it’s landing? Check out the video below. It shows the entire process from undocking to landing back on Earth. Fast forward to 19:00 to see the landing.