NASA astronaut and 2 Russian cosmonauts return to Earth

Posted April 11, 2017

- The 50th person to command a crew on the International Space Station is now back on the Earth, a day after handing off control to the first woman to helm the orbiting outpost twice.

U.S. astronaut Commander Shane Kimbrough handed over command to Ms Whitson, before he and Russian flight engineers Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko sealed off their Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft ahead of their departure from the orbiting outpost. They will take approximately three and a half hours time to touch the surface of the earth.

The three astronauts are bound to enter the Soyuz at about 12:40 AM ET on April 10.the undocking event will take place at 3:57 AM ET if everything works as planned.

Kimbrough has now spent 189 days in space on two flights and ventured outside the space station for four spacewalks during his latest mission. During their stay, Kimbrough performed three spacewalks to swap out batteries and fix the outside of the ISS - bringing his total number of career spacewalks to six. According to NASA's space station blog, the trio shared their ride home with science samples and other cargo along with personal items. Now, in his entire astronaut career, he performed six spacewalks.

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Rescue teams reached landing zone within minutes and helped all three crew members to leave capsule.

The departing crew members will be replaced by astronaut Jack Fischer and cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, who are scheduled to launch April 20 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Peggy had been in the station since November, 2016. Now NASA experts are keeping an eye on the body structure of Peggy Whitson, in order to monitor if any changes occur there. She made history is 2008 when she became the first female commander of ISS.

But this isn't the only record that Whitson has broken. The capsule's descent was slowed by a single, giant parachute.

In what was described as a "bullseye touchdown" by NASA commentators, the capsule landed at 7.21 a.m.