The return of two astronauts from the International Space Station marks the end of Expedition 51

Thomas Pesquet assisted after his landing (Image NASA TV)
Thomas Pesquet assisted after his landing (Image NASA TV)
Oleg Novitskiy assisted after his landing (Image NASA TV)
Oleg Novitskiy assisted after his landing (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the astronaut Thomas Pesquet and the cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy returned to Earth on the Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft, that landed without problems in Kazakhstan. The two of them spent more than six months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on November 20, 2016 as part of Expedition 50.

During the period spent on the International Space Station, the two crew members have been conducting various maintenance activities and many scientific experiments. Other activities include the arrival of a spacecraft. In fact, just a few days after the Expedition 51 crew was completed, Orbital ATK’s Cygnus “John Glenn” space cargo ship reached the International Space Station.

During the Expedition 51 period, two space walks were carried out, involving the two American astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer. On May 12, in just over 4 hours, the two of them replaced an avionics box that supplies electricity and data connections to the science experiments and performed some other maintenance operations. On May 23 in about 2.45 hours they replaced a computer system component and installed two antennas to improve wireless communications for future space walks.

Generally, when there’s a crew turnover on the International Space Station, the commander hands over the command and returns to Earth. The decision to reduce its own crew on the Station by the Russian space agency Roscosmos caused some changes in the rotation that have also influenced the management of the command. The consequence is that Commander Peggy Whitson handed over the command of the International Space Station to the Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin markin the beginning of Expedition 52 but will stay on the Station until September.

In essence, with the new rotation, Peggy Whitson will confirm that she’s a super-space veteran serving with Expedition 50, 51 and 52. Along with her, Fyodor Yurchikhin and Jack Fischer remain on the International Space Station as part of the normal rotation. On July 28, 2017, the launch of three new crew members is scheduled to complete the Expedition 52 with a complete again crew of 6 people.

The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft just after leaving the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)
The Soyuz MS-03 spacecraft just after leaving the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)

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