Moscow, Oct 22 (efe-epa).- The Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft, with three crew members from the International Space Station (ISS) onboard, landed successfully Thursday in the Kazakh steppe, according to the Russian Space Flight Control Center.
The descent capsule touched down at 02.54 GMT about 150 kilometers southeast of the Kazakh city of Zhezkazgan with cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy on board.
The three crewmembers spent six months on the international orbital platform, where they left behind Russian cosmonauts Sergei Rízhikov and Sergei Kud-Sverchkov, and American astronaut Kathleen Rubins, who begin mission 64 aboard the ISS.
Last Tuesday, Cassidy handed over command of the ISS to Rízhikov.
The crew of the Soyuz MS-16 thus ended a 196-day mission that covered 3,136 orbits of the Earth, according to NASA.
Cassidy completed his third flight and accumulated 378 days in space, which is fifth in duration among American astronauts.
Ivashin completed his third flight with his return to earth and has a total of 476 days, while for Vagner it was the first mission.
The three will be transferred by Russian helicopters to the recovery center in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, and from there Cassidy will board a NASA plane to return to Houston.
His two Russian companions will in turn be transported on a plane from the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center to Star City, outside Moscow.
During their stay on the ISS, the three welcomed Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley at the end of May, who arrived in the Crew Dragon capsule of aerospace transport company SpaceX, owned by businessman Elon Musk.
They were the first NASA astronauts to be launched to the ISS from the United States aboard an American spacecraft and rocket since the end of the shuttle program on Jul. 8, 2011.
Now, the three crew members who remain on the orbital platform, Rízhikov, Kud-Sverchkov and Rubins, will witness the scheduled arrival for Nov. 1 of SpaceX’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission, which will take NASA astronauts to the ISS. These include Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi from Japan. EFE-EPA