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Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

Soyuz MS-17 safely returns back to Earth

The Russian Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft undocked from the space-facing docking port of the International Space Station’s Poisk module earlier today and safely returned back to Earth after a 185-day long mission.

Launched on October 14, 2020 atop a Russian Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the vehicle which was crewed by the two Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, as well as NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, successfully arrived at the space station just a few hours after its launch. Upon their arrival at the International Space Station (ISS), they first joined the ISS Expedition 63 crew under the command of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy. After the departure of Cassidy and his two Russian crewmates a few days later, the Soyuz MS-17 crew became part of Expedition 64 and Sergey Ryzhikov the new commander of the orbital laboratory. On March 19, 2021, the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft had to be relocated by its crew from the Earth-facing docking port of the Rassvet module to the space-facing docking port of the Poisk module. That was done to open the port at Rassvet for the arrival of Soyuz MS-18 on April 9. Before his departure, Ryzhikov handed over station command to NASA astronaut Shannon Walker on April 15, 2021.

Earlier today, at 01:34 UTC, Soyuz MS-17 undocked from the station and began its journey back to the planet.

Undocking of Soyuz MS-17. Image Credit: NASA TV.
Undocking of Soyuz MS-17. Image Credit: NASA TV.

After a 4 min 39 s long deorbit burn at 04:01 UTC and the subsequent separation of the orbital module and the service module, the descend module entered Earth’s atmosphere and softly touched down on the steppe of Kazakhstan at 04:55 UTC / 10:55 ALMT (local time). Shortly after the landing, recovery forces arrived at the side by helicopter and started to help the three crew members exit the capsule. After a few medical checks, the two cosmonauts and the one astronaut were flown to the city of Karaganda, from where Rubins took a plane to Houston in the United States and Kud-Sverchkov and Ryzhikov a plane to Star City near Moscow in Russia.

Landing of Soyuz MS-17. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.
Landing of Soyuz MS-17. Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls.

The mission was the second spaceflight of Sergey Ryzhikov and Kate Rubins and the first one of Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. During their visit to the ISS, the three conducted research in multiple fields such as Earth science, human research and technology development. They also, together with crew members of the Crew-1 mission, managed the arrival of the the space freighters Progress MS-16, Cygnus NG-18 and Dragon Spx-21. Ahead of the launch of the Russian Nauka module later this year, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov also performed a space walk to prepare the station for the module’s arrival.


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