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Three crew members on the International Space Station are scheduled to end their mission and return to Earth on Thursday, Dec. 14, just days before another three space travelers begin their mission. Live coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Expedition 53 Commander Randy Bresnik of NASA and Flight Engineers Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) and Sergey Ryazanskiy of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will undock their Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft from the space station at 12:14 a.m. EST Thursday and land in Kazakhstan at 3:38 a.m. (2:38 p.m. Kazakhstan time).
Their return will conclude 139 days in space since their launch on July 28. During that time, they have supported hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only microgravity laboratory.
Coverage of Expedition 53 departure and landing activities is as follows (all times EST):
Wednesday, Dec. 13
- 7:40 a.m. – Change of command ceremony with Bresnik handing over station command to Roscosmos’ Alexander Misurkin
- 8:30 p.m. – Farewell and hatch closure coverage (hatch closure at 9 p.m.)
- 11:45 p.m. – Undocking coverage (undocking scheduled for 12:14 a.m. Thursday)
Thursday, Dec. 14
- 2:15 a.m. – Deorbit burn and landing coverage (deorbit burn at 2:44 a.m. and landing at 3:38 a.m.)
- 6 a.m. – Video file of hatch closure, undocking and landing activities
- 7 p.m. – Video file of landing and post-landing activities and interview with Bresnik in Kazakhstan
At the time of undocking, Expedition 54 will begin aboard the station under the command of Misurkin. Along with his crewmates Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA, the three-person crew will operate the station until the arrival of three new crew members five days later.
On Sunday, Dec. 17, Scott Tingle of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of Roscosmos and Norishige Kanai of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency will launch at 2:21 a.m. (1:21 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Coverage of Expedition 54 launch and docking activities is as follows:
Sunday, Dec. 17
- 1:15 a.m. – Soyuz MS-07 launch coverage (launch at 2:21 a.m.)
Tuesday, Dec. 19
- 3 a.m. – Docking coverage (docking scheduled for 3:42 a.m.)
- 5 a.m. – Hatch opening and welcome coverage
NASA TV will air a full complement of video of the crew’s pre-launch activities in Baikonur in the days preceding launch.
The six crew members of Expedition 54 will continue work on the hundreds of experiments conducted off the Earth, for the Earth. This crew continues the long-term increase in U.S. crew size from three to four, allowing NASA to maximize time dedicated to research on the space station.
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