Tim Peake returns to Earth
ESA astronaut Tim Peake, NASA astronaut Tim Kopra and Russian Soyuz commander Yuri Malenchenko landed safely today in the Kazakh steppe after a three-hour ride in their Soyuz spacecraft. They left the International Space Station at 05:52 GMT at the end of their six-month stay on the research complex.
Soyuz TMA-19M braked from the Station’s cruising speed of almost 28 800 km/h and entered the atmosphere shortly afterwards. The crew module separated as planned and parachutes deployed to slow the vehicle even more.
Retrorockets fired moments before landing and springs in the moulded seats reduced the impact of hitting the ground at 09:15 GMT. Teams were on hand within minutes to help them out.
They leave behind three astronauts to look after the Station and run experiments. The next launch to complete the crew is scheduled for 7 July on an upgraded Soyuz with cosmonaut Anatoli Ivanishin, Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi and NASA’s Kate Rubins.
Tim Peake’s Principia mission was an eventful and busy six months in space. In the first month after his launch on 15 December 2015, Tim conducted a spacewalk. He also drove a rover across a simulated Mars terrain from space and helped to dock two spacecraft.
Tim took part in numerous experiments for ESA and international partners. Highlights include using the Space Station airlock to study Tim’s lungs, monitoring his sleeping patterns to learn how humans adapt to life without normal daylight, and recording how many calories he consumed to prepare for missions further from Earth.
Many experiments ran continuously while Tim and his crewmates were maintaining the weightless research laboratory. ESA’s Expose facility was returned to Earth after submitting organisms and chemicals to 18 months of travelling unprotected in space on the outside of the Station.
The Solar facility on Europe’s Columbus laboratory module continues to monitor our Sun after eight years of continuous observations. Another facility is tracking ships as the Space Station flies overhead.
Aside from his maintenance and science duties, Tim also enthralled the world via social media and ran a marathon in space. The next ESA astronaut to travel to the Station will be Thomas Pesquet of French nationality, scheduled for launch in November.
Back to the European Astronaut Centre
Tim is the eighth ESA astronaut to complete a long-duration mission in space. He will be the third after Alexander Gerst and Andreas Mogensen to fly directly to ESA’s astronaut home base in Cologne, Germany, for medical checks and for researchers to collect more data on how Tim’s body and mind have adapted to living in space.