Oct. 21 (UPI) -- NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos landed on Earth Wednesday evening after departing from the International Space Station.
The Soyuz MS-16 landed in the remote steppe of Kazakhstan at about 10:54 p.m. EDT, marking the end of a 196-day mission for Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner after having spent the last few days packing completed science experiments, personal items and other types of cargo onto the spacecraft.
After boarding the craft, they closed the hatch at about 4:10 p.m. EDT Wednesday and the spacecraft undocked from the Poisk module's space-facing port at 7:32 p.m.
The trip back to Earth took a little over three hours, as the Soyuz began its deorbit burn at 10:01 p.m. and began its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere followed by a parachute-assisted descent that brought them back to Earth about 50 minutes later.
"After landing, the crew will return by Russian helicopters to the recovery staging city in Karaganda, Kazakhstan," according to NASA. "From there, Cassidy will board a NASA plane for a flight back to Houston, while Ivanishin and Vagner will board a Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft and return to their homes in Star City, Russia."
During his time as Expedition 63 commander, Cassidy welcomed the arrival of NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, who traveled to ISS aboard NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission, the first crewed flight of a commercial spacecraft and the first time humans have launched from an American launchpad since NASA retired the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
Behnken and Hurley returned to Earth in August.
Last week, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov joined the space station crew. On Tuesday, in a change of command ceremony, Cassidy relinquished official control of the space station to Ryzhikov.
Once Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner depart, Expedition 64 will officially begin.
"The Expedition 64 crew will conduct research in technology development, Earth science, biology, human research and more," according to NASA.