After watching more than 2,750 sunrises from above the Earth, three crew members of the International Space Station returned to the planet for a sparkling sunrise Wednesday.
Article by Seth Borenstein
A record-setting American astronaut and his two Russian colleagues felt the sun beat down on them on a cloudless morning after a six-month trek in orbit.
NASA’s Jeff Williams returned as the U.S. record holder for time in orbit, logging 534 days in space over four missions. Williams, Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka logged 72.8 million miles in space, circling the globe 2,752 times before landing on target in the south central steppes of Kazakhstan just 23 minutes after sunrise Wednesday, 7:13 a.m. local time (1:13 a.m. GMT).
They were then carried to a medical tent for routine tests to see how they adjust to gravity, including checking to see how they could stand.
The trio undocked from the space station nearly three and a half hours before touchdown in hazy sunshine with a comfortable welcome home temperature around 66 degrees (19 degrees Celsius) about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. They landed thanks to a large orange and white parachute and last second engine firings. NASA spokesman Dan Huot called it a “picturesque landing” on a picture-perfect day.
The world record is held by Russian Gennady Padalka at 879 days in space. Thirteen Russians have more time in space than Williams.
“Everything went very smoothly, very normally,” NASA spokesman Rob Navias said.
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