ISS Commander Jeff Williams along with flight engineers Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin of ROSCOSMOS (Russian space agency) landed in the plains of Kazakhstan. The three departed from the International Space Station (ISS) at 5:51pm ET. They parachuted and landed safely 3 hours later onboard Russia’s Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft marking the end of Expedition 48.
— NASA (@NASA) September 7, 2016
The Russian spacecraft descended southeast of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. As the capsule nears the ground, a layer of haze has hampered visibility on the landing site. IT was not until several minutes later that NASA was able to confirm the landing at 7:13 am local time on Wednesday (1:13am GMT). A Russian recovery team assisted the space crew out of the spacecraft. They were then seated to begin their readjustment into the Earth’s gravity.
Their landing also signaled the start of Expedition 49 under the command of Anatoly Ivanishin. Along with Ivanishin, NASA’s Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) are currently manning the International Space Station. During the turnover ceremonies, Ivanishin said “We’ll be missing you here,” he further stated. “Have fun riding though the atmosphere … and have a very safe and exceptionally soft landing.”
A replacement crew is set to launch September 23 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Cosmonauts Andrey Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov, with NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough will be arriving onboard Russia’s Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft. They will complete the crew of Expedition 49.
On the way back to Earth, Williams took a spectacular picture of the planet amidst the shining sun. His caption says: “I will certainly miss this view! Vast gratitude toward my crewmates, ground teams, supporting friends, and family.”
I will certainly miss this view! Vast gratitude toward my crewmates, ground teams, supporting friends, and family. pic.twitter.com/op9vFyWSFT
— Jeff Williams (@Astro_Jeff) September 6, 2016
Jeff Williams who finished a 172 day mission aboard the International Space Station has a total of 534 days in orbit. He now has the record for the most time spent in space in US history. Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka however holds the world record with 878 days spent in space.