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Soyuz capsule safely returns three space station crew members to Earth

By Brooks Hays
1/6
Soyuz capsule safely returns three space station crew members to Earth
Expedition 59 NASA astronaut Anne McClain is helped out of the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft just minutes after she, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan on June 25, 2019, Kazakh time. NASA Photo by Bill Ingalls/UPI | License Photo

June 25 (UPI) -- Two astronauts and a cosmonaut are back on Earth after 204 days aboard the International Space Station. The trio touched down inside the Russian-built Soyuz capsule.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Oleg Kononenko of the Russian space agency Roscosmos landed in Kazakhstan at 10:47 p.m. ET on Monday evening -- 8:47 a.m. Tuesday morning, local time.

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McClain, Saint-Jacques and Kononenko orbited Earth 3,264 times during their 204-day stay aboard ISS. During their seven-month tour, the Expedition 59 crew members conducted hundreds of scientific experiments in a variety of fields and executed a handful of spacewalks.

During two spacewalks, McClain helped swap out old batteries for new ones and aided the comprehensive upgrade of the space station's power system. During one of her spacewalks, McClain was joined by Saint-Jacques, who became only the sixth Canadian to venture outside the space station.

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Of the three, Kononenko was the veteran. As such, he served as commander of Expedition 59 and the return Soyuz mission.

"Kononenko, on his fourth mission, conducted two spacewalks totaling 13 hours and 46 minutes, bringing his career total to 32 hours and 13 minutes spread over five spacewalks," NASA reported in a blog update.

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As soon as the departing trio's ride left the space station's docking port, Expedition 60 commenced inside ISS. For now, the space station is occupied by only Nick Hague and Christina Koch of NASA, who will serve as flight engineers, and Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, the new station commander.

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The space station's population will double in a month. The current threesome will be joined by Andrew Morgan of NASA, Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency and Alexander Skvortsov of Roscosmos on July 20.

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