Russian cosmonaut and film crew returned safely to Earth from space station

A trio of Russian crew members consisting of a cosmonaut, an actress, and a film producer has landed safely after departing the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday, Saturday, October 16. The three traveled home to Earth in a Russian Soyuz MS-18 craft and landed in Kazakhstan, southeast of the town of Dzhezkazgan.

The cosmonaut, Oleg Novitskiy of Russian space agency Roscosmos, has spent 191 days in space performing research and helping to maintain the station. He was accompanied by actress Yulia Peresild and producer Klim Shipenko who were on the ISS to film scenes for an upcoming movie. The movie, titled Challenge, is a cooperative project between Moscow media companies and Roscosmos.

The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship is pictured docked to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module.
The Soyuz MS-18 crew ship is pictured docked to the Nauka multipurpose laboratory module. NASA

The three said farewell to the remaining ISS crew — consisting of European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, and Mark Vande Hei, JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov — yesterday afternoon before getting into the Soyuz MS-18.

The hatch between the spacecraft and the station was closed at 4:41 p.m. ET (1:41 p.m. PT), and the spacecraft undocked at 9:14 p.m. ET (6:14 p.m. PT).

A Russian trio said farewell to the station crew and closed the Soyuz MS-18 crew ship hatch at 4:41pm ET today. They undock at 9:14pm this evening. More… https://t.co/Hwwr4AEUI7 pic.twitter.com/aXFOtG2H1O

— International Space Station (@Space_Station) October 16, 2021

The Soyuz traveled back to Earth in a short flight, arriving a little after midnight ET. A safe touchdown was achieved at 12:36 a.m. ET on Sunday morning (9:36 p.m. PT on Saturday night).

According to NASA, the trio was collected from the landing site by Russian helicopters and taken to the recovery staging city in Karaganda, Kazakhstan. From there, they returned to their training base in Star City, Russia, aboard a Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center aircraft.

Touchdown after 191 days in space for @Novitskiy_ISS and 12 days in space for two Russian filmmakers! More… https://t.co/CrQl3O1BUl pic.twitter.com/kzXlCTr0og

— International Space Station (@Space_Station) October 17, 2021

The Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft had caused a worrying issue on the ISS on Friday, October 15, when a thruster fired incorrectly during a test and pushed the space station out of alignment. Roscosmos says that the crew of the ISS were not in any danger, and fortunately, the Russian trio on the MS-18 was returned to Earth safely.

However, this was the second such incident this year, as a newly docked Russian module for the ISS — the Nauka Multipurpose Logistics Module — errantly fired its thrusters and pushed the station out of alignment in July.

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