Russian-US join team return to Earth after a year in space

Russia's state space corporation Roscosmos announced that two Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut have safely returned to the Earth on Wednesday (September 27) after living in the International Space Station (ISS) for a year.

The US-Russian joint crew. Image Courtesy: IBNS

The Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft, carrying Sergey Prokopyev, Dmitri Petelin, and Frank Rubio, had undocked from the Prichal module of the ISS earlier on Wednesday and landed in Kazakhstan at 14:17 Moscow time (11:17 GMT) (7:17 EDT), Roscosmos said on its official website.

After a 371-day stay in space, Prokopyev and Petelin made the longest flight program in the ISS history.

During his two space flights, Prokopyev accumulated more than 567 days and more than 55 hours in total for eight spacewalks. Petelin, who made his first space flight, accumulated more than 39 hours in total for six spacewalks.

The three people started their mission on September 21, 2022. The US-Russian team was scheduled to return back after three months, but were stuck in space after the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft suffered damage from a possible micrometeorite strike, according to reports.

“It’s good to be home,” Rubio said after the landing.

Petelin, who wore a pair of sunglasses, also spoke about the journey. "It was my first landing. I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “Today I felt it to the fullest — the loads, the gravity.”

Meanwhile, Rubio now holds the American record for most number of days spent in space. He broke the previous record of 355 days held by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei on Sept. 11.