Three astronauts have made it safely back to Earth, after accidentally breaking records for the longest time spent in space by a woman.
Nasa’s Terry Virts, the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti and Russian Anton Shkaplerov made it back to Earth after 199 days. They landed safely in Kazakhstan, this afternoon, in a journey described by Nasa as a textbook homecoming.
Cristoforetti's 199 days beat the record set by Nasa's Suneti 'Suni' Williams, who spent 194 days in space. But Cristoforetti and their team never meant to do so.
The three astronauts had planned to return much sooner, but were delayed by a month after problems with a Russian cargo ship in April. Though those problems didn’t put the astronauts in danger, the rocket that broke is used to launch crew-carrying spacecraft, so the Russian space agency temporarily called off all launched while an investigation was undertaken.
After landing, the astronauts talked to officials and doctors and were taken into a tent for preliminary checks. After those, they’ll fly in helicopters to the Karaganda in Kazakhstan, where they’ll get on planes to go back home.
A Soyuz rocket, like the ones that were hit problems, successfully launched a satellite last week. Another Soyuz will launch a Progress cargo ship to the station in early July to be followed by the launch of a new crew later in the month.
The new crew will join Russians Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, and NASA's Scott Kelly, who have remained in orbit. Kelly and Kornienko are in the midst of a yearlong orbital mission.
Additional reporting by Associated PressReuse content