The return of three astronauts from the International Space Station marks the end of Expedition 38

Astronaut Mike Hopkins and cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy assisted by the ground crew after their landing (Image NASA TV)
Astronaut Mike Hopkins and cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy assisted by the ground crew after their landing (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago, Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy and American astronaut Mike Hopkins returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-10M spacecraft, which landed without problems in Kazakhstan. They spent nearly six months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on September 25, 2013. Initially, they were part of Expedition 37, in the second half of their stay they were part of the Expedition 38 with Oleg Kotov as the Station commander.

In the course of about five and a half months on board the International Space Station, the three crew members carried out a series of activities that includes routine maintenance but also various extraordinary work. The tasks on the Station include many scientific experiments of various kinds but Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy also carried the Olympic torch into outer space in a very special spacewalk.

Among the other activities of the past few months there was the arrival of the cargo spacecraft Progress 53, Progress 54 and Cygnus “C. Gordon Fullerton”, which brought to the Station a significant amount of supplies and new equipment. Cygnus also delivered 33 nanosatellites to be deployed. In the last month, the cargo spacecraft Progress 52 and Cygnus left the station to be destroyed in their reentry into the atmosphere.

Astronaut Mike Hopkins also participated in two spacewalks required to install a new ammonia pump. In a total of almost 13 hours, he carried out the tasks necessary to repair the International Space Station’s internal cooling system.

Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy performed two spacewalks to carry out other taks outside of the Station including the installation of two new hig-tech cameras.

On Sunday, March 9, Oleg Kotov officially passed command of the International Space Station to Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, marking the beginning of Expedition 39. The crew will be completed by the arrival of three other members, expected in a couple of weeks.

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