The Russian Soyuz MS-09 landed today safely in the steppe of Kazakhstan, according to the Russian Space Flight Control Center. Russian cosmonaut Sergei Prokopiev, NASA’s Serena Aunon-Chancellor, and German Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency returned to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) on board the descent capsule. They stayed in space for a total of 197 days.
Soyuz made landfall at 05.02 GMT about 140 kilometers southeast of the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan, as scheduled. “The crew feels good,” a Russian Space Flight Control Center spokesman said.
The crew of the Russian Soyuz MS-09 brought to Earth a series of samples with results of various scientific experiments, including cartilage tissue and a thyroid gland printed on the ISS.
However, for Roscosmos, the Russian space agency, the most expected cargo is the fragment of the Soyuz MS-09 coating, which will clarify the mystery of the small hole in its hull which caused an air leak in the ISS.
Three ISS Astronauts Landed Safely Aboard Russian Soyuz MS-09 Rocket
A few months ago, the crew of the orbital platform detected a loss of pressure, product of a hole in a compartment of the Russian spacecraft, which managed to patch, thus ending the air leak. To clarify the origin of the hole, Prokopiev and his Russian companion Oleg Kononenko, made a spacewalk of 7 hours and 45 minutes to extract a piece of coating Soyuz.
This operation was because the part of the spacecraft where the orifice was located is destroyed in the upper layers of the atmosphere when it returns to Earth. In addition to Kononenko, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and US astronaut Anne McClain remain on board the ISS, which will be joined by three other crew members on March 1st.
The ISS, a more than $150 billion project involving 16 nations, currently consists of 14 permanent modules and orbits the Earth at a distance of 400 kilometers and a speed of more than 27,000 kilometers per hour.