Published: Fri, June 02, 2017
Science | By Hubert Green

Space capsule with 2 astronauts returns to Earth

Space capsule with 2 astronauts returns to Earth

The two men returning on board the Soyuz vehicle are Russia's Oleg Novitsky and the European Space Agency's Thomas Pesquet.

"We confirm separation", an official at Russian Mission Control outside Moscow said of the undocking that occurred as the International Space Station (ISS) orbited above the Chinese-Mongolian border. The crew members have spent 197 days in orbit.

It's Friday morning and everyone's already eager to clock off from work, including astronauts Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet, who will depart the International Space Station this morning just before 7AM ET.

Whitson, who is serving on the station for a third time, broke the US record in April for cumulative time in space.

"It's been a fantastic adventure and awesome ride", Pesquet said in a post on Twitter, featuring a collage of landscapes in the colours of the French flag. Novitskiy and Pesquet would presumably feel similar, but it's safe to assume they're also happy to be heading back home.

Three spacefarers will remain on the station: Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and United States astronaut Jack Fischer, who arrived in April, and veteran United States commander Peggy Whitson.

French President Emmanuel Macron talked to the astronaut by video transmission after he landed on Friday and praised him for sharing his experience so openly.

"These qualities were confirmed during the flight", he added.

Pesquet, France's 10th ISS astronaut, used his popular Twitter account to post photographs of Earth from space, including several of the French capital.

"Thomas has worked in a remarkable fashion", Jean-Yves Le Gall, the head of CNES, France's space agency, told AFP.

"There are things that one understands intellectually, but which one doesn't really get", the 39-year-old said.

"A last picture of Paris from the side. but you can never go wrong with Paris!"

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