April 19, 2021 11:57:33 AM IST
Two Russian cosmonauts and one NASA astronaut landed on the International Space Station in the steppe of Kazakhstan on Saturday after a six-month mission. This was shown by pictures of the Russian space agency. The Russians Sergei Ryzhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov landed together with Kate Rubins from NASA at 0455 GMT, about 150 kilometers southeast of the city of Zhezkazgan, on barren land. The Soyuz descent module with the trio landed upright after descending into a cloudless sky on a fine spring day in central Kazakhstan, a Roscosmos television commentator confirmed.
Molecular biologist Rubins (42) and former military pilot Ryzhikov (46) completed their second space missions after both made their debuts on the ISS after launching in July and October 2016, respectively. Kud’-Sverchkov, 39, another former soldier, completed his first mission.
Pictures from the landing pad showed Rubins smiling as she received a bouquet of flowers from retired cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, who was there to greet the crew.
Check out more pictures of Kate Rubins’ return from @NASA_Astronautsand his teammates Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov @roscosmos after their mission on board @Space station ➡️ https://t.co/pAw4aWiwRk pic.twitter.com/csx1rvO0si
– PHOTO of NASA HQ (@nasahqphoto) April 17, 2021
Kate Rubins from @NASA_Astronauts, with Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov @ Roscosmos, returned safely to Earth at 12:55 p.m. ET (4:55 p.m. UT). During Rubins’ mission, she made two space walks and spent hundreds of hours doing it @ISS_Research. Further information: https://t.co/xKHSzzUfV9 pic.twitter.com/Aq223Xjw08
– NASA (@NASA) April 17, 2021
“It’s great to be on this side of things,” said Rubins.
She will return to NASA’s Houston hub while her colleagues Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov fly to Moscow after completing their missions.
On his first mission in 2016, Rubins was the first to sequence DNA in space.
In her second assignment, she continued her sequencing activities, working on cardiovascular experiments, and monitoring a small piece of radish “as they grew in orbit … and harvested them on Earth for analysis,” according to NASA.
Busy orbital laboratory
For the past decade, the space station’s population has typically been between three and six as crews taking off from Russia’s Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan came and went.
Last year, Elon Musk’s SpaceX broke Russia’s monopoly, and Baikonur had been performing manned launches since the US shuttle program was suspended in 2011, heralding a new chapter in space travel from the ground.
As a result, the number of crews on board will reach 11 next week with the arrival of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.
NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and the European Space Agency Thomas Pesquet are scheduled to dock with the ISS next Friday. The crew of four they are replacing are expected to return to Earth on April 28th.
The record for people aboard the ISS was set in 2009 when an incoming crew increased the population of the orbital laboratory to 13.
It is also the common record for most people in space at a time after seven astronauts were aboard NASA’s space shuttle Endeavor and a crew of six were simultaneously aboard the Mir space station in March 1995.
The ISS, which has been manned continuously for more than 20 years, is expected to be withdrawn before the end of the decade, raising questions about future cooperation between Russia and the West in space.
NASA announced on Friday that it had selected SpaceX to develop a spacecraft that would allow the first astronauts to land on the lunar surface since 1972 – a huge win for Elon Musk’s company.
April 12th marked the sixtieth anniversary of the historic mission of the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, which marked the beginning of manned space travel and a decisive moment in the space race between Moscow and the West.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, there has been more cooperation than competition, though it’s difficult to hide the appearance of Roscosmos and NASA, which are going their separate ways if the ISS falls behind.
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