American NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Takuya Onishi safely landed their Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft in Kazakhstan at about 1 p.m. CDT on Saturday. The Expedition 48/49 trio completed hundreds of scientific research experiments throughout 115 days in space aboard the International Space Station, working with three other ISS crewmembers who remain on the station. The world class space lab, bypassing international politics and cultural conflicts, continues to demonstrate how humans, when they set their minds to it, can rise above any barrier to work for the betterment of all people and life on Earth.
The ISS has been continuously occupied for 15 years and 363 days since the arrival of Expedition 1 on November 2, 2000–the longest continuous human presence in low Earth orbit, surpassing space station Mir’s previous record of 9 years and 357 days.
Expedition 49/50’s Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos, will operate the station for three weeks until the arrival of three new crew members from Expedition 50/51, Peggy Whitson of NASA, French spationaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency, and Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos. The new crew is scheduled to launch November 17, 2016, from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.
The crew that landed Saturday departed in July.
Rubins completed two spacewalks, installing a docking adapter, retracting a spare thermal radiator, and installing two high definition cameras. Three cargo spacecraft delivered several tons of supplies and research experiments during the trio’s stay. Four times per year on average the crew’s swap out three at a time with a full complement of six crewmembers for most of the journey.
The docking adapter Rubins installed with Expedition 48 astronaut Jeff Williams is the very first on the ISS. It is outfitted with sensors and systems providing a port for commercial spacecraft to bring astronauts to the station in the future. The ISS expects the first users to be the Boeing Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft now in development in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Here is an interesting video of Expedition 48 handing over control to Expedition 49 earlier this year:
To learn more about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/station.