NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth
NASA astronaut and Expedition 46 Commander Scott Kelly and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth Tuesday after a historic 340-day mission aboard the International Space Station. They landed in Kazakhstan at 11:26 p.m. EST (10:26 a.m. March 2 Kazakhstan time).
Joining their return trip aboard a Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft was Sergey Volkov, also of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, who arrived on the station Sept. 4, 2015. The crew touched down southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.
During the record-setting One-Year mission, the station crew conducted almost 400 investigations to advance NASA’s mission and benefit all of humanity.
Kelly and Kornienko specifically participated in a number of studies to inform NASA’s Journey to Mars, including research into how the human body adjusts to weightlessness, isolation, radiation and the stress of long-duration spaceflight.
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Kelly’s identical twin brother, former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, participated in parallel twin studies on Earth to help scientists compare the effects of space on the body and mind down to the cellular level.
With the end of this mission, Kelly now has spent 520 days in space, the most among U.S. astronauts. Kornienko has accumulated 516 days across two flights, and Volkov has 548 days on three flights.
Expedition 47 continues operating the station, with NASA astronaut Tim Kopra in command. Kopra, Tim Peake of ESA (European Space Agency) and Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members in about two weeks.
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NASA astronaut Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka are scheduled to launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, on March 18.
The International Space Station is a convergence of science, technology and human innovation that enables us to demonstrate new technologies and make research breakthroughs not possible on Earth.
It has been continuously occupied since November 2000 and, since then, has been visited by more than 200 people and a variety of international and commercial spacecraft.
The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next giant leap in exploration, including future missions to an asteroid and Mars.