A few hours ago the astronauts Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi and the cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin returned to Earth on the Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft, landed without problems in Kazakhstan. The three of them spent almost four months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on July 8, 2016 as part of Expedition 48.
During the period spent on the International Space Station, the three crew members have been conducting various maintenance activities and many scientific experiments. Other activities include spacecraft arriving and departing.
In August, Kate Rubins performed the first DNA sequencing experiment in space within the Biomolecule Sequencer experiment. This is an important innovation that in the future will allow the identification of microbes in space: it’s not only scientific research but also for instance the possibility of identifying diseases. The experiments of the past months showed that the equipment for sequencing called MinION can work in the microgravity conditions on the International Space Station.
During the Expedition 49 period, the Russian Progress MS-02 space cargo ship departed from the International Space Station disintegrating in Earth’s atmosphere on October 14, 2016. On October 23, the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo spacecraft arrived in its Orb-5 mission.
The time spent on the International Space Station by this trio was particularly short. The problems found in the new version of the Soyuz spacecraft caused delays in the latest launches with consequences on the crew rotation’s schedule. Safety is the top priority and the rest of the work schedule is adapted to it.
On Friday, October 28, Anatoly Ivanishin officially handed over the command of the International Space Station to the American astronaut Shane Kimbrough, marking the beginning of Expedition 50. The crew will be completed with the arrival of new members, whose launch is currently scheduled for November 17.