ISS Astronauts Land Safely in Kazakhstan After 173 Days in Space

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After spending 173 days in space, Expedition 50 crew members Astronaut Shane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Russian space agency Roscosmos made their way back to Earth on Monday.

“Touchdown! Exp 50 crew lands in Kazakhstan at 7:20 am ET after 173 days in space,” NASA’s page for updates from the International Space Station said in a tweet.

The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft carrying the crew members undocked from the International Space Station at 3:57 a.m. EDT.

It took the astronauts nearly three hours and 20 minutes to land near the town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan at 7:20 a.m. EDT (4.50 p.m. India time).

Ryzhikov, the Soyuz commander, was at the controls of the Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft, according to a NASA blog posted earlier in the day.

As the Soyuz MS-02 undocked, Expedition 51 officially began under the command of NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson.

She and Flight Engineers Oleg Novitskiy of Roscosmos and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency), will operate the station until the arrival of two new crew members later this month, NASA said.