For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – The American-Russian crew of Expedition 62 returned safely to an Earth vastly changed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic early this morning Friday, April 17 after departing the International Space Station in their Soyuz spacecraft last night Thursday, April 16 for a safe soft landing just hours later in Kazakhstan.
The trio of crewmates comprises NASA astronauts Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir as well as Oleg Skripochka of the Russian space agency Roscosmos were welcomed back by diminished ground crews – all wearing face masks as protection from the deadly COVID-19 virus that has killed nearly 150,000 Earthlings and over 37,000 Americans already.
Upon completing 9 months in space aboard the ISS Morgan now has the record of 4th longest single spaceflight by an American and Meir is not far behind as 6th longest -and both on their rookie mission !!
The made a parachute assisted touchdown in ther Soyuz MS-15 in the steppes of Kazakhstan at 1:16 am ET (11:16 a.m. Kazakh local time) southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan – after departing the International Space Station at 9:53 p.m. EDT Thursday.
The events were broadcast live on NASA TV but their were no live images of the landing because of coronavirus induced restrictions making for a smaller Russian recovery force.
The spaceflight was the first for both Morgan and Meir who “contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences and technology development.”
The Expedition 62 crew left a week after the new Expedition 63 crew arrived last week leaving 3 crew members on board until the next planned arrival of NASA astronauts aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon – now scheduled for May 27 NASA announced today.
Here are the details from NASA:
Morgan’s nine-month mission began July 20, 2019. His 272-day flight spanned Expeditions 60-62, encompassing a total of 4,352 Earth orbits and a journey of 115.3 million miles. Morgan’s extended stay in space will increase knowledge about how the human body responds to longer-duration spaceflight, through the various investigations he supported, including the Fluid Shifts study. He also conducted seven spacewalks – totaling 45 hours and 48 minutes – four of which were to improve and extend the life of the station’s Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer as it looks for evidence of dark matter in the universe.
Meir and Skripochka, who launched on the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft Sept. 25, 2019, spent 205 days in space, making 3,280 orbits of Earth during a trip of 86.9 million miles. During her first spaceflight, Meir conducted the first three all-woman spacewalks with crewmate Christina Koch of NASA, totaling 21 hours and 44 minutes. Among the investigations to which she contributed is a study co-led by a former colleague of hers, examining how human heart tissue functions in space. Skripochka is completing his third spaceflight for a cumulative 536 days in orbit.
After post-landing medical checks, the crew will return by Russian helicopters to the recovery staging city in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, where they will split up. Morgan and Meir will board a NASA plane located in the adjacent city of Kyzlorda, Kazakhstan, for a flight back to Houston. Skripochka will board a Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft in Baikonur to return to his home in Star City, Russia.
Among the research experiments to which the Expedition 62 crew contributed was the Droplet Formation Study, which evaluates water droplet formation, water flow and, indirectly, the perceived pressure of current shower head technology as compared to the industry-standard use of jet nozzles. The study examines droplet size and speed and how they affect the feeling of increased pressure for the end user. Another experiment to which the crew contributed was Mochii, a miniature scanning electron microscope used to conduct real-time, on-site imaging and composition measurements of particles. Analysis of small and microscopic particles is a critical need for human space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit when samples cannot be returned to Earth immediately for analysis.
When the Soyuz MS-15 spacecraft with Meir, Morgan and Skripochka departed, Expedition 63 officially began aboard the station, with NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy serving as station commander and Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner serving as flight engineers.
The crew members of Expedition 63 are scheduled to be aboard the station to welcome NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, the first astronauts to launch from American soil to the space station since 2011, on NASA’s upcoming SpaceX Demo-2 flight test.
Watch Ken’s continuing reports onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent ULA and SpaceX launches including Boeing Starliner, Crew and Cargo Dragon, Solar Orbiter, In-Flight Abort and Starlink at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
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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.
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