The return of three astronauts from the International Space Station marks the end of Expedition 64

Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and the crew that assisted them after their landing (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Kate Rubins, Sergey Ryzhikov, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and the crew that assisted them after their landing (Photo NASA/Bill Ingalls)

A few hours ago, astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov returned to Earth on the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft, that landed in Kazakhstan. The three of them spent a bit more than 6 months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on October 20, 2020, as part of Expedition 63. After landing, they were assisted by a skeleton crew with the precautions needed to avoid the risk of Covid-19 infection.

During the time spent on the International Space Station with Expedition 64, the three crew members have been conducting various maintenance activities and many scientific experiments. On December 7, 2020, SpaceX’s Dragon 2 cargo spacecraft reached the Station then came back to Earth on January 14, 2021. On January 6, 2021, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo spacecraft that completed mission NG-14 departed the Station. On February 8, 2021, the Russian Progress MS-15 cargo spacecraft departed the Station. On February 17, the Russian Progress MS-16 cargo spacecraft reached the Station. On February 22, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft reached the Station in its NG-15 mission.

Six spacewalks were conducted during the Expedition 64 period. On November 18, 2020, cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov took almost 7 hours to carry out some maintenance tasks around the Pirs and Zvezda modules. On January 27, 2021, astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover took nearly 7 hours to complete a series of tasks to upgrade the Station’s systems. On February 1, astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover took 5 hours and 20 minutes to replace some batteries and update several of the Station’s cameras. On February 28, astronauts Kate Rubins and Victor Glover took just over 7 hours to complete some updating tasks needed in anticipation of the arrival of new solar panels. On March 5, astronauts Kate Rubins and Soichi Noguchi took just under 7 hours to complete more upgrades needed in anticipation of the arrival of new solar panels. On March 13, astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins took a little less than 7 hours to complete some maintenance tasks on the Station’s cooling and communications systems.

On Thursday, April 15, Sergey Ryzhikov officially handed over the command of the International Space Station to the American astronaut Shannon Walker, marking the beginning of Expedition 65. The Station crew turnover will continue later this month with the end of the Crew-1 mission and the launch of the Crew-2 mission on two SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft.

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