NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson is all set to return to Earth after saying bye-bye to the International Space Station (ISS), the US space agency has said. She has completed a 288-day long mission.
Whitson and her fellow Expedition 52 Flight Engineer Jack Fischer of NASA and Commander Fyodor Yurchikhin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos will be returning to Earth after undocking their Soyuz MS-04 spacecraft from the ISS. The trio will land in Kazakhstan at 9:22 pm EDT.
Yurchikhin will hand over the station command to NASA’s Randy Bresnik.
Whitson has completed a 288-day mission that kicked off in November 2016, spanning 122.2 million miles and 4,623 orbits of Earth – her third long-duration stay on the outpost.
Moreover, she is the only American astronaut who will have accrued a total of 665 days in space over the course of her career, achieving the eighth rank on the alltime space endurance list. On the other hand, Mr Yurchikhin and Mr Fischer, who launched in April, will complete 136 days in space at the time of their landing.
At the time of their landing on Earth Mr Yurchikhin will have completed a total of 673 days in space on his five flights and ranked seventh on the all-time endurance list.
The expedition is somehow a bit affected by Hurricane Harvey and NASA is reviewing return plans to Houston of Ms Whitson, Mr Fischer and the science samples landing in the Soyuz spacecraft. The crew is also set to go through a standard post-flight medical check-ups.
According to NASA's latest report, the entire group of scientists have conducted several number of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard humanity's only orbiting laboratory.
After being seperated from Expedition 52, Expedition 53 is scheduled to begin aboard the station under the command of Randy Bresnik soon.
Roscosmos's Sergey Ryazanskiy and Paolo Nespoli of ESA (European Space Agency) will operate the station until the arrival of Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba of NASA and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos in the crew.
The group of three is said to launch on September 12 from Kazakhstan.