Three space travelers returned safely to Earth on Thursday after a six-month mission on the International Space Station.
The Soyuz MS-16 capsule carrying NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Evanshin and Evan Wagner of Roscosmos Agency landed on the Kazakh steppes southeast of the city of Jizkazgan at 7:54 a.m. (2:54 GMT) Thursday. After a short medical examination, the three will be transported by helicopter to Jizkazgan, where they will leave for their homes.
The crew smiled as they spoke to masked members of the recovery team, and NASA and Roscosmos reported that they were in good condition.
As part of the additional precautions due to the Coronavirus, members of the rescue team who met with the crew were tested for the virus and the number of people participating in the recovery effort was limited.
Cassidy, Evaneshin and Wagner have spent 196 days in orbit since they arrived at the station on April 9.
Kate Robins of NASA, Sergey Rijikov of the Russian Space Agency, and Sergey Kud-Svershkov arrived at the orbital position a week ago for six months.
Before leaving the crew, the Russian astronauts were temporarily able to close the air leak that they had tried to locate for several months. The small leak posed no direct danger to the station crew, and Roscosmos engineers are working on a permanent seal.
In November, Robins, Regikov and Cod Sverhkov are expected to receive the first NASA SpaceX mission that includes NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soishi Noguchi. It comes after the successful Demo-2 mission earlier this year.
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