The return of three astronauts from the International Space Station marks the end of Expedition 48

Jeff William, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka assisted after their landing (Photo NASA/Bills Ingalls)
Jeff William, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka assisted after their landing (Photo NASA/Bills Ingalls)

A few hours ago the astronaut Jeff Williams and the cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft, landed without problems in Kazakhstan. The three of them spent about five and a half months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on March 18, 2016 as part of Expedition 47.

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 oncerned spacecraft arriving and departing and spacewalks.

During the Expedition 48 perdiod two new space freighters arrived in a very short time: on July 18 the Russian Progress MS-3 cargo spaceshipt arrived in the mission also known as Progress 64 and on July 20 the SpaceX Dragon cargo spaceship arrived in its CRS-9 mission. The Dragon departed from the International Space Station on August 26 to return to Earth with cargo that include biological samples and scientific experiments.

On August 19 Jeff Williams conducted a spacewalk that lasted almost exactly six hours along with his fellow astronaut Kate Rubins, who belongs to Expedition 48/49, to install the International Docking Adapter-2 (IDA-2), needed to enable the docking to the International Space Station of the American spacecraft that will enter service in the coming years.

On August 23 Jeff Williams became the American astronaut who spent the most cumulative days in space with 534 days. The following days up to his departure must be added to his record.

On September 1 Jeff Williams conducted another spacewalk that lasted 6 hours and 48 minutes, again together with Kate Rubins, to perform some maintenance tasks to a thermal radiator. The two of them also installed two new high-definition cameras outside the International Space Station.

On Tuesday, September 6, Jeff Williams officially handed over the command of the International Space Station to the Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, marking the beginning of Expedition 49. The crew will be completed with the arrival of new members, whose launch is scheduled for September 23.

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