A few hours ago the astronauts Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba and the cosmonaut Alexander Misurkin returned to Earth on the Soyuz MS-06 spacecraft, that landed without problems in Kazakhstan. The three of them spent a bit more than 5 months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on September 13, 2017 as part of Expedition 53.
In Kazakhstan it’s winter and because of the low temperatures the three of them were quickly covered up and kept in the open as little as possible. Generally after a landing various celebration pictures get taken but when it’s cold this phase is shortened or cut out completely.
During the time spent on the International Space Station with Expedition 54, the three crew members have been conducting various maintenance activities and many scientific experiments. The crew’s rotation crossed path with the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon space cargo ship, which reached the Station on December 17, 2017. Its CRS-13 mission was completed with its return to Earth on January 13, 2018. The Russian space cargo ship Progress MS-8 reached the Station on February 15, 2018.
During that time, 3 spacewalks were carried out. On 23 January 2018 Mark Vande Hei spent almost 7.5 hours with his Expedition 55 colleague Scott Tingle to carry out maintenance work, especially on the Canadarm2 robotic arm. On February 2, 2018 Alexander Misurkin spent a little over 8 hours with his Expedition 55 colleague Anton Shkaplerov to install new tools and communication systems on the Zvezda module. On February 16, 2018 Mark Vande Hei spent almost 6 hours with his Expedition colleague 55 Norishige Kanai to carry out maintenance work and finish the task on the Canadarm2 robotic arm.
On Monday, February 26, Alexander Misurkin officially handed over the command of the International Space Station to the Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, marking the beginning of Expedition 55. The crew will be completed with the arrival of new members scheduled for March 23.