Space station trio comes home for the holidays

Image: Kjell Lindgren
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren makes his first call home after descending to Kazakhstan in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft today. (Credit: NASA TV)

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.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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