European Space Agency Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, IZ0UDF, who returned to Earth June 11 with crew mates NASA Astronaut Terry Virts, and Russian Cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, has set a new record for the longest single space mission by a woman. Cristoforetti’s tour of duty onboard the International Space Station was extended by about a month, following the failure in late April of the Russian robotic Progress 59 cargo spacecraft to reach the ISS. The Progress went out of control, eventually burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.
“Early start into Day 200 in #space,” Cristoforetti tweeted before boarding the Soyuz vehicle for the trip home. “It’s been an amazing journey, thx for coming along! Now time to go home to Earth.”
While in space, Cristoforetti, 38, conducted several Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) school contacts. She was to have returned to Earth in early May. Cristoforetti, from Italy, set the record on June 6, when she surpassed the previous record of 194 days, 18 hours, 2 minutes, logged by NASA astronaut Suni Williams, KD5PLB, during her time onboard the International Space Station in 2007. Cristoforetti’s new record will come up just short of 200 hours, counting her flight back to Earth.
Cristoforetti, Shkaplerov, and Virts took off late last November from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Her departure from the ISS will leave Russian cosmonauts to support the ARISS program until late July, when Kjell Lindgren, KO5MOS; Oleg Kononenko, RN3DX, and Kimiya Yui arrive at the ISS as part of a scheduled crew rotation. Before flights were reshuffled, they had been scheduled to arrive in May. All three are set to return December 22.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko, RN3BF, and Gennady Padalka, RN3DT, arrived on station in March as part of the Expedition 43/44 crew increment. Kelly and Kornienko will remain on the ISS for 1 year. Padalka also will return to Earth in December.
The next Russian cargo craft, Progress 60, will launch in early July to deliver several tons of food, fuel and supplies. The space station has sufficient supplies to support crews until the fall.
A private SpaceX robotic Dragon capsule is still slated to blast off on its next resupply mission on June 19, but the timing of that flight is now under review, NASA officials said.