Two radio amateurs — European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Andreas Mogensen, KG5GCZ, Soyuz commander and Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, RN3DT — plus Kazakh cosmonaut Aidyn Aimbetov, arrived back on Earth on September 12 from the International Space Station (ISS). Mogensen, Aimbetov, and cosmonaut Sergey Volkov, RU3DIS had launched in a Soyuz transporter to the ISS on September 2 from Baikonur cosmodrome. Aimbetov — who had replaced “space tourist” and British singer Sarah Brightman on the Soyuz flight — and Mogensen took part in the 10-day ESA mission to test new technologies and conduct a series of scientific experiments. Mogensen is Denmark’s first astronaut, while Aimbetov is the first Kazakh cosmonaut.
The trio undocked from the orbiting complex on September 11 in the Soyuz spacecraft that had been attached to the ISS, leaving the vessel they arrived in for the station crew. The new Soyuz spacecraft will return NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, RN3BF, at the end of their one-year mission next March, along with Volkov.
The return wrapped up 168 days in space for Padalka, who had been on the ISS since March and has logged a record 879 days in space on five flights — more than 2 months longer than cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, the previous record holder.
The undocking of the returning Soyuz marked the formal start of ISS Expedition 45 under Kelly’s command. In addition to Kelly, Kornienko, and Volkov, those onboard the ISS include astronaut Kjell Lindgren, KO5MOS; cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, RN3DX, and JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui, KG5BPH.
Three more radio amateurs are scheduled to head to the ISS in December. They are cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko, RK3DUP; UK astronaut Timothy Peake, KG5BVI, and Timothy Kopra, KE5UDN.
November 2 will mark the 15th anniversary of a permanent human presence on the ISS. — Thanks to NASA, European Space Agency