LIVE: Expedition 49 separates from the ISS for return to Earth

Wrapping up their 115-day stay in space, the Expedition 49 trio will depart from the International Space Station (ISS) tonight to land on the steppe of Kazakhstan, southeast of Zhezkazgan. The crew has already packed up and is ready for the upcoming three-and-a-half hour return flight to Earth.

The trio, consisting of NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, Russian cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi, will return home aboard the same spacecraft – Soyuz MS-01 – that transported them to the orbital outpost on July 9, 2016. It is the first vehicle of the upgraded Soyuz MS series, a modified version of Russia’s flagship Soyuz TMA crewed vehicle. The new MS variant includes an improved position control engine and a GLONASS/GPS system. The spacecraft also has a new approach and docking system, a new computer, and more power-efficient solar panels.


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