It took some doing, but three crew members from the International Space Station returned to Earth today and are on their way home in time for Christmas.
NASA’s Kjell Lindgren, Russia’s Oleg Kononenko and Japan’s Kimiya Yui touched down on the steppes of Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz capsule at 7:12 p.m. local time (5:12 a.m. PT), marking the first time since 2012 that a space station crew came down after dark. It’s the sixth night landing for the Soyuz in the 15 years since astronauts started living on the station.
The shift to an after-dark landing was made to accommodate the Dec. 21 launch of an upgraded Progress supply ship.
The winter weather in Kazakhstan brought further complications.