Three members of the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 59 crew returned to Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft earlier this morning. The three crewmates spent 204 days aboard the station during which they orbited the Earth 3,264 times travelling 139,096,495 kilometres (86,430,555 miles).
NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency departed from the ISS at 23:35 UTC on June 24. Just over three hours later, the Soyuz spacecraft’s main parachutes deployed and it drifted towards the ground southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan on the steppe of Kazakhstan.
The three astronauts began their near seven-month journey aboard the same Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft on December 3, 2018. After a successful launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, they arrived at the ISS six hours later.
The crew of Expedition 59 contributed to hundreds of experiments in biotechnology, biology, Earth science, and physical science during their time aboard the station. NASA’s Anne McClain conducted two spacewalks totalling 13 hours and 8 minutes. Saint-Jacques joined McClain on her second spacewalk for 6 hours and 29 minutes becoming only the sixth Canadian astronaut to perform a spacewalk. Russia’s Kononenko added to his three previous spacewalks with two more bringing his career total to 32 hours and 13 minutes.
With the crew of the station reduced to just three, preparations have begun for the launch of the next three astronauts. Andrew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos will launch aboard the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft on July 20.