Nighttime view of northern Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula.
JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Houston – Nasa astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka, of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, have safely returned to Earth after completing a 172-day mission aboard the International Space Station.
After safely returning on September 6, 2016 from his latest mission to the International Space Station, the veteran astronaut Williams now has spent 534 days in space, making him first on the all-time Nasa astronaut list.
Williams and his Russian crewmates landed in their Soyuz TMA-20M at 9.13pm EDT south-east of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan in Kazakhstan.
PICTURED: Expedition 49-50 crew members, Jeff Williams, Alexey Ovchini and Oleg Skripochka pose for pictures with their Sokol launch and entry suits. CREDIT: Nasa
Having completed his fourth mission, Williams now has spent 534 days in space, making him first on the all-time Nasa astronaut list. Skripochka now has 331 days in space on two flights, while Ovchinin spent 172 days in space on his first.
PICTURED: Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams of Nasa returns to Earth on September 6, 2016, after a five-and-a-half-month mission aboard the International Space Station. CREDIT: Nasa
“No other US astronaut has Jeff’s time and experience aboard the International Space Station. From his first flight in 2000, when the station was still under construction, to present day where the focus is science, technology development and fostering commercialisation. Jeff even helped prepare the space station for future dockings of commercial spacecraft under Nasa’s commercial crew programme,” said Kirk Shireman, ISS program manager at Nasa&39;s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“We’re incredibly proud of what Jeff has accomplished off the Earth for the Earth.”
Williams was instrumental in preparing the station for the future arrival of US commercial crew spacecraft. The first international docking adapter was installed during a spacewalk by Williams and fellow Nasa astronaut Kate Rubins August 19.
PICTURED: Astronaut Kate Rubins wears a hand-painted spacesuit. CREDIT: Nasa
Outfitted with a host of sensors and systems, the adapter’s main purpose is to connect spacecraft bringing astronauts to the station in the future. Its first users are expected to be Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, now in development in partnership with Nasa.
PICTURED: The Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft encapsulated in its fairing. CREDIT: Nasa
Together, the Expedition 48 crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity’s only orbiting laboratory.
PICTURED: The southern tip of Italy is visible in this image taken by the Expedition 49 crew aboard the International Space Station on September 17, 2016. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft can be seen in the foreground. CREDIT: Nasa
The crew members also welcomed five cargo spacecraft during their stay.
Shane Kimbrough of Nasa and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrey Borisenko of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch September 23 from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. – Nasa