NASA astronaut and International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams, KD5TVQ, and two of his space station crewmates have returned safely to Earth, following Williams’ US record-breaking mission aboard the ISS. Williams, Oleg Skripochka, RN3FU, and Alexey Ovchinin landed in a Soyuz TMA-20M transporter early today in Kazakhstan. Now with four space missions to his credit, Williams has logged 534 days in space, making him first on the all-time NASA astronaut list. Skripochka has 331 days in space on two flights, while Ovchinin spent 172 days in space on his first mission.
“No other US astronaut has Jeff’s time and experience aboard the International Space Station,” Kirk Shireman, ISS Program manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said. “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 commercialization. Jeff even helped prepare the space station for future dockings of commercial spacecraft under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.”
During his time on the ISS, Williams and Astronaut Kate Rubins, KG5FYJ, ventured outside the confines of the space station on two occasions, to install a docking adapter and to retract a spare thermal control radiator and install two new high-definition cameras.
ISS Expedition 49 officially began with the departure of the Soyuz from the station. Expedition 49 commander Anatoly Ivanishin and his crewmates — Rubins and Takuya Onishi, KF5LKS — will operate the station for more than 2 weeks until the arrival of three new crew members. Shane Kimbrough, KE5HOD, Sergey Ryzhikov, and Andrey Borisenko will head to the ISS from Kazakhstan on September 23.