Three members of the International Space Station crew, all of them radio amateurs, returned safely to Earth on December 11. The trio, Astronauts Kimiya Yui, KG5BPH, and Kjell Lindgren, KO5MOS, and Russian Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, RN3DX, landed safely in their Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan at 1312 UTC.
NASA noted that it marked the first time a crew has landed after sunset and only the sixth nighttime Soyuz return from the space station. Accompanying the three crew members were samples from several NASA human research experiments aboard the station.
On December 15, three other radio amateurs — UK ESA astronaut Tim Peake, KG5BVI, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra, KE5UDN, and Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP — will launch from Baikonur, Kazakhstan to replace the returnees.
Expedition 45 Flight Engineer Kjell Lindgren of NASA is among three crew members who returned to Earth Friday after a 141-day mission aboard the International Space Station, landing in Kazakhstan at approximately 8:12 a.m. EST (7:12 p.m. Kazakhstan time).
Also returning were Flight Engineers Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency) and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The crew touched down northeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan, marking the first crew landing to occur after sunset and only the sixth nighttime Soyuz spacecraft return from the space station.
With the end of this mission, Kononenko now has spent 533 days in space, and Lindgren and Yui, both on their first flight, have spent 141 days in space.
While on station, the crew members participated in Earth observations and conducted research in the areas of physical, biological and molecular science to advance knowledge and demonstrate new technologies. Such investigations enable research breakthroughs and drive technology innovations that provide benefits on Earth, and will enable long-duration human and robotic exploration missions into deep space.
The space station is a test bed to demonstrate new technologies, and Lindgren and Yui took part in the Veggie plant growth experiment that yielded fresh lettuce for crew consumption in August. NASA is maturing Veggie technology aboard the space station to provide future pioneers with a sustainable food supplement — a critical part of NASA’s journey to Mars.
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