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Astronaut returns to earth after logging record-breaking 534 days in space

Russia's Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft touched down safely in Kazakhstan on Wednesday morning.

By Brooks Hays
1/5
Astronaut returns to earth after logging record-breaking 534 days in space
Expedition 48 NASA astronaut Jeff Williams outside the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft a few minutes after he and Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. NASA Photo by Bill Ingalls/UPI | License Photo

ZHEZKAZGAN, Kazakhstan, Sept. 7 (UPI) -- NASA astronaut Jeff Williams returned to Earth on Wednesday with a new record. Williams' latest mission puts his days-in-space total at 534, the most by an American astronaut.

"No other U.S. astronaut has Jeff's time and experience aboard the International Space Station," Kirk Shireman, ISS program manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center, said in an update. "From his first flight in 2000, when the station was still under construction, to present day where the focus is science, technology development and fostering commercialization."

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Williams returned with fellow Expedition 48 crew members, Russian cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin, and Oleg Skripochka, are back on Earth after a successful trip home from the International Space Station.

After 172 days in space on ISS, the three members were returned home by Russia's Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft, which touched down safely in Kazakhstan on Wednesday morning.

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"The landing was registered. The descent vehicle landed 148 kilometers [92 miles] from the city of Jezkazgan in the Karaganda region of Kazakhstan," a spokesman for Roscosmos told state news agency RIA Novosti.

While aboard the space station, Williams helped install a variety of upgrades and make repairs, one of which required a spacewalk outside ISS. Williams also conducted a number scientific experiments, aiding investigations in the fields of biology, biotechnology, physical science and earth science.

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NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, as well as Anatoly Ivanishin of Roscosmos and Takuya Onishi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, remain aboard the space station. In two weeks, they will be joined by three new members, Shane Kimbrough of NASA and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko.

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