Sunday at noon, three astronauts who had been on an 115-day-long mission on the International Space Station safely landed on Earth. The Expedition 49 crew made of Kate Rubins, Anatoly Ivanishin, and Takuya Onishi first climbed into the cramped Russian-made Soyuz spacecraft, then closed the hatch to the ISS. Three hours later, the craft’s parachute opened and the crew touched down in central Kazakhstan where rescue helicopters hovered above — all under the vigilant eye of Bill Ingalls, a NASA photographer. Here are some of the highlights from the landing.
During their mission, the three astronauts performed various biology, biotech, and physics experiments. They were also responsible for loading and unloading three cargo shipments which docked with the ISS during their stay.
“I’m kind of reluctant to close the hatch,” Ivanishin said during a ceremony Friday when he handed command of the space station to U.S. astronaut Shane Kimbrough. “The time is very special here. … I didn’t have time to know what’s going on on our planet, and maybe it’s for the better. On the space station, you live in a very friendly, very good environment.”