Three ISS crew members set to return on Earth, replacement launch on Sunday
New Delhi : Three crew members of International space station are set to return to Earth under rapid-crew rotation process. The Russian mission control center told Sputnik early on Thursday that they have entered the Soyuz spacecraft.
"Cosmonaut Sergey Ryazansky [of Roscosmos] and astronauts Paolo Nespoli [of ESA] and Randy Bresnik [of NASA] have left the ISS, entered the Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft and closed the hatch at 5:01 Moscow time [2:01GMT]," the center's spokesperson said.
Earlier NASA confirmed that the expedition 53 Commander Bresnik has handed over station command to Roscosmos’s Alexander Misurkin in an official change of command ceremony.
The crew are expected to undock the spacecraft from the ISS in roughly two hours and set out on the trip home after completing 139 days in space. The landing in central Kazakhstan is expected at 2:38 p.m. local time (8:38GMT).
If everything goes as per plan, the crew will return on Earth on Thursday and the replacement crew will board on their journey on Sunday.
The fresh crew members - Soyuz MS-07 commander Anton Shkaplerov, NASA flight engineer Scott Tingle and Japanese physician-astronaut Norishige Kanai - will reach the outpost early Tuesday, joining Expedition 54 commander Alexander Misurkin and NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba.