As reported by the Inquisitr earlier this week, three of the astronauts orbiting Earth on board the International Space Station (ISS) have nearly completed their stay in space and are scheduled to come home on June 3.
Scott Tingle of NASA, Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are finishing up a 168-day orbital mission and are returning to Earth tomorrow, NASA announced in late May.
Their mission took them on a 71.2-million-mile journey around our planet that included 2,688 orbits of the Earth, noted NASA officials. The trio arrived at the ISS on December 17, 2017, on what was Tingle’s first-ever spaceflight. During the five and a half months spent in orbit, Expedition 55 Commander Shkaplerov got to break the Russian record for the longest spacewalk on February 2, the Inquisitr reported at the time.
The trio’s departure from the space station marks the end of Expedition 55 and the beginning of Expedition 56, which will commence officially as soon as their Soyuz MS-07 spacecraft undocks from the ISS’ Rassvet module.
In a traditional change of command ceremony that took place on June 1, Shkaplerov formally handed over the command of the space station to NASA astronaut Drew Feustel, who will take over as Commander of Expedition 56.
NASA astronaut Ricky Arnold tweeted a message on the day of the ceremony, posting photos from inside the space station.
“The joy of the journey comes from the people with whom you share it,” Arnold wrote on Twitter.
According to the space agency, the Soyuz capsule is set to undock at 5:16 a.m. EDT (09:16 GMT) and will perform a deorbit burn at 7:47 a.m. EDT (11:47 GMT), followed by a landing in the grasslands of Kazakhstan at 8:40 a.m. EDT (12:40 GMT).
Tomorrow’s homecoming will be live-streamed on NASA Television, which will start broadcasting the event as early as 1:30 a.m. EDT (05:30 GMT), when Tingle, Kanai, and Shkaplerov are scheduled to board the Soyuz capsule. The trio will close the vehicle’s hatch at 25 minutes later.
Undocking coverage is scheduled to begin 4:45 a.m. EDT (08:45 GMT), while the deorbit burn and the Kazakhstan parachute landing will be broadcast starting with 7:15 a.m. EDT (11:15 GMT).
With Tingle, Kanai, and Shkaplerov gone, the space station will be inhabited by a three-member crew for a few days. On June 8, Feustel, Arnold, and cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev will be joined by another trio of astronauts, slated to take off into space on June 6 aboard a Soyuz MS-09 capsule.
The spacecraft will launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 7:12 a.m. (11:12 GMT), carrying cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor, and the European Space Agency’s Alexander Gerst to Earth’s orbiting laboratory. The trio will replenish the ISS crew number after a two-day journey into space.
NASA will start broadcasting the Soyuz MS-09 launch on June 6 at 6:15 a.m. (10:15 GMT), while the June 8 docking, scheduled for 9:07 a.m. (13:07 GMT), will be live-streamed starting with 8:15 a.m. (12:15 GMT). Docking and welcome coverage is set to air at 10:30 a.m. (14:30 GMT).