Multinational Soyuz Crew Returns Safely to Earth after Departing ISS

Multinational Soyuz Crew Returns Safely to Earth after Departing ISS
The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft is seen as it lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan with Expedition 60 crew members Nick Hague of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, along with visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. Hague and Ovchinin are returning after 203 days in space where they served as members of the Expedition 59 and 60 crews onboard the International Space Station. Almansoori logged 8 days in space during his first flight as an astronaut. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL –  A multinational crew from the US, Russia and the UAE returned safely to Earth this morning, Thursday, Oct. 3, touching down safely in their Russian Soyuz capsule in the steppes of Kazakhstan just hours after a middle-of-the-night departure from the International Space Station (ISS)  – which briefly hosted 9 humans from 4 countries for the past week.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague returned to Earth from ISS Thursday, alongside Soyuz commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) inside their Soyuz MS-12 capsule. 
The three nation trio landed safely at 6:59 a.m. EDT in Kazakhstan  (1059 GMT, 4:59 p.m. local time) today southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan.
The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft is seen as it lands in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan with Expedition 60 crew members Nick Hague of NASA and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, along with visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori of the United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019. Hague and Ovchinin are returning after 203 days in space where they served as members of the Expedition 59 and 60 crews onboard the International Space Station. Almansoori logged 8 days in space during his first flight as an astronaut. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
For Hague and Ovchinin the soft landing marked the end of their 203-day mission, during which they orbited Earth 3,248 times on a journey of some 86.1 million miles aboard the ISS where they served as members of Expeditions 59 and 60.
For Almansoori this landing capped his eight-day stay on board station that covered 128 orbits of Earth and 3.1 million miles since launching only last week Sept. 25 with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos on the Soyuz MS-15 crew ship.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and visiting astronaut from United Arab Emirates (UAE) Hazzaa Ali Almansoori returned to Earth from the International Space Station at 6:59 am in Kazakhstan on Oct. 3, 2019.  Credits: NASA

All three were healthy and quickly extracted from their Soyuz capsule by Russian recovery forces. The Soyuz had tipped on its side upon landing.

The departure and landing marked the official conclusion to Expedition 60.

Watch this NASA TV video showing the final moments leading to touchdown: 

Video Caption: NASA astronaut Nick Hague returned to Earth from the International Space Station Thursday, alongside station commander Alexey Ovchinin of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos and visiting astronaut Hazzaa Ali Almansoori from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 6:59 a.m. EDT (4:59 p.m. local time) Oct. 3, 2019.  Credit: NASA TV

The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft had undocked as scheduled from the ISS overnight at 3:37 a.m. EDT after hatch closure three hours earlier.
6 crew members remain on the ISS starting now as Expedition 61. The crew consists of NASA astronauts Christina Koch, Jessica Meir and Andrew Morgan as well as cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos.
The Soyuz MS-12 crew ship with three multinational crewmembers inside is pictured before undocking from the station’s Rassvet module on Oct. 3, 2019. Credit: NASA TV

Hague and Ovchinin had launched together aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spaceship earlier this year on March 14, along with fellow NASA astronaut Christina Koch who rounded out the trio.

They arrived at the orbiting outpost after a four-orbit and six-hour trip and docked at the ISS to started their nearly seven month stay. 

“Koch remains aboard the orbiting laboratory for an extended mission that will provide researchers the opportunity to observe effects of long-duration spaceflight on a woman in preparation for human missions to the Moon and Mars,” says NASA. 

NEW HOME IN SPACE: Screen shot of 9 Humans aboard #ISS Sept 25, 2019. After launch, docking and hatch opening NASA’s Jessica Meir, Roscosmos’ Oleg Skripochka and Roscosmos Spaceflight Participant Hazzaa Ali Almansoori arrive at the International Space Station after 4-orbit flight beginning 957 AM EDT. During welcome ceremony, the newest station residents greeted by astronauts Nick Hague, Andrew Morgan, Christina Koch and Luca Parmitano along with cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Alexander Skvortsov. This is Meir’s and Almansoori’s first spaceflight and Skripochka’s third.  Screenshot Credit: NASA TV/Ken Kremer/Spaceupclose.com

The March liftoff was the second one together for Hague and Ovchinin who had previously flown together on an abbreviated mission in October 2018 on the Soyuz MS-10 spaceship, cut short by a technical problem that triggered an ascent abort minutes after launch and a safe landing back on Earth.

Almansoori made history as he became the first person from the UAE to fly in space his mission as the first astronaut from the UAE.

After post-landing medical checks, Hague will return to Houston, and Ovchinin and Almansoori will return to Star City, Russia.

Further details from NASA:

The Expedition 60 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science, including investigations into devices that mimic the structure and function of human organs, free-flying robots, and an instrument to measure Earth’s distribution of carbon dioxide.

Hague conducted three spacewalks during his mission, totaling 19 hours and 56 minutes. Ovchinin conducted one spacewalk lasting 6 hours and 1 minute during his mission.

Hague’s first two spacewalks in March continued the overall upgrade of the station’s power system with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the power channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. During his third spacewalk, he and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan successfully installed the second of two international docking adapters that Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon commercial crew spacecraft will use to connect to the space station.

Hague completes his second flight in space totaling 203 days, while Ovchinin has now spent 375 days in space during three flights. 


Just last Wednesday, Sept. 25, the latest new multinational trio of space flyers launched aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-15 spaceship which blasted off at 9:57 a.m. EDT (6:57 p.m. Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan with NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and the first space traveler from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hazzaa Ali Almansoori.

The orbiting outpost was temporarily home to 9 humans from 4 countries for the next week !! – living and working peacefully in space cooperatively for all humanity.

The ISS was host to five visiting vehicles – including Japan’s HTV-8 cargo craft with Russia’s Progress 73 resupply ship and a trio of Soyuz crew ships; MS-12, MS-13 and MS-15. 

Overall Almansoori is the 10th spaceflight participant – under contracts with Roscosmos – and the first since 2009.

239 people from 19 countries have now visited the International Space Station.

239 people from 19 countries have now visited the International Space Station.  Credit: NASA

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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