288 day mission: Astronaut Peggy Whitson heading home

Terry Joseph
September 3, 2017

She will be joined on her flight back from the space station tonight by fellow American astronaut Jack Fischer and Russia's Fyodor Yurchikhin, who are leaving the ISS with Whitson. Instead, the European Space Agency offered to transport Whitson and Fischer to Cologne, Germany, where they will meet up with the NASA plane for the final leg of their journey.

The crew's Russian Soyuz capsule touched down in Kazakhstan at 9:21 p.m. EDT Saturday.

On Friday, Yurchikhin will hand over station command to NASAs Randy Bresnik. During her stay, she set a new record for the most cumulative time in space by an American with 665 days accrued.

Whitson and her crew members, including U.S. astronaut Jack Fischer, are heading for a landing in Kazakhstan.

Yurchikhin and Fischer, who launched in April, will complete 136 days in space on their return.

Russian recovery crews, along with NASA flight surgeons and support personnel, quickly reached the spacecraft to help the returning crew members out of the cramped descent module as they begin their re-adjustment to the unfamiliar tug of gravity. They have been at the Space Station for over nine months.

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Whitson ranks behind a handful of Russian cosmonauts record-setters who spent time on Russia's Mir space station as well as the International Space Station (ISS), where Whitson spent her most recent mission.

The US astronauts are based in Houston, which is dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and the widespread flooding left in its wake.

Whitson was supposed to fly back in June after a half-year in space. Only seven Russian men have logged more time, including Gennady Padalka, the world record-holder with 878 days in orbit. "My desire to contribute to the spaceflight team as we move forward in our exploration of space has only increased over the years", she said of her plans.

Their return is still scheduled for Sunday night, "just about the same time they would have returned to Houston had the NASA Gulfstream jet done this all by itself", Navias said, adding that none of the science experiments or research samples the crew brought back with them had been impacted.

The group of three is said to launch on September 12 from Kazakhstan.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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