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Expedition 57 Returns

December 20, 2018

Three members of the International Space Station’s Expedition 57 crew, including NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, returned to Earth Thursday, safely landing at 12:02 a.m. EST (11:02 a.m. local time) in Kazakhstan.

Auñón-Chancellor and her crewmates, Expedition 57 Commander Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) and Soyuz commander Sergey Prokopyev, launched June 6 and arrived at the space station two days later to begin their mission.

The Expedition 57 crew contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the world-class orbiting laboratory. Highlights included investigations into new cancer treatment methods and algae growth in space. The crew also installed a new Life Sciences Glovebox, a sealed work area for life science and technology investigations that can accommodate two astronauts.

During the 197 days, they circled the globe 3,152 times, covering 83.3 million miles. This was the first flight for Auñón-Chancellor and Prokopyev and the second for Gerst, who – with a total of 362 days in orbit – now holds the flight duration record among ESA astronauts.

For the last 16 days of her mission, Auñón-Chancellor was joined by fellow NASA astronaut Anne McClain, marking the first time in which the only two U.S. astronauts on a mission were both women.

Prokopyev completed two spacewalks totaling 15 hours and 31 minutes. He and Oleg Artemyev of Roscosmos launched four small technology satellites and installed an experiment during a spacewalk Aug. 15. Then during a 7 hour, 45 minute spacewalk Dec. 11, he and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos retrieved patch samples and took digital images of a repair made to the habitation module of the Soyuz MS-09 in which the Expedition 57 trio rode home. The space station crew located and, within hours of its detection, repaired a small hole inside the Soyuz in August. The spacecraft was thoroughly checked and deemed safe for return to Earth.

Auñón-Chancellor will return home to Houston, Gerst will return to Cologne, Germany, and Prokopyev will return to Star City, Russia, following post-landing medical checks and research activities.

The Expedition 58 crew continues operating the station, with Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos in command. Along with his crewmates Anne McClain of NASA and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, the three-person crew will operate the station for a little more than two months until three additional crew members launch Feb. 28, 2019 to join them.

Alexander Gerst of ESA is carried to a medical tent after landing near the town of Zhezkazgan, Khazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Credit: NASA/ Bill Ingles
Alexander Gerst of ESA is carried to a medical tent after landing near the town of Zhezkazgan, Khazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Credit: NASA/ Bill Ingalls
Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA rests in a chair landed in a Soyuz MS-09 capsule in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Serena Auñón-Chancellor of NASA rests in a chair landed in a Soyuz MS-09 capsule in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos rests in a chair landing in a Soyuz MS-09 capsule in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Sergey Prokopyev of Roscosmos rests in a chair landing in a Soyuz MS-09 capsule in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Russian Search and Rescue teams arrive at the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft shortly after it landed Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Russian Search and Rescue teams arrive at the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft shortly after it landed Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Russian Search and Rescue teams arrive at the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft shortly after it landed Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Russian Search and Rescue teams arrive at the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft shortly after it landed Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)