Space station trio rides slashed Soyuz back to Earth

Serena Aunon-Chancellor
NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor is carried to a medical tent shortly after she, Germany’s Alexander Gerst and Russia’s Sergey Prokopyev landed in their Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft near the town of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. (NASA Photo / Bill Ingalls)

A Russian Soyuz spaceship that stirred up an international fuss over a drill hole and an air leak brought three spacefliers back to Earth from the International Space Station without a problem.

NASA’s Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Germany’s Alexander Gerst and Russia’s Sergey Prokopyev touched down in the snowy steppes of Kazakhstan at 11:02 a.m. local time Dec. 20 (9:02 p.m. PT Dec. 19), leaving three crewmates on the orbital outpost.

The homeward-bound trio rode the same Soyuz they took up to the station in June. It’s the same Soyuz that experienced an air leak in August, causing consternation in space as well as back down on Earth.

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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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