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Science & Exploration

Paolo Nespoli returns to Earth

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ESA / Science & Exploration / Human and Robotic Exploration / International Space Station

ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli will return to Earth on 14 December after his third mission to the International Space Station. Paolo and crewmates Randy Bresnik of NASA and Sergei Ryazansky of Roscosmos will return in their Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft. Watch the events from farewell to touchdown live by tuning in at these times:

  • 01:30 GMT (02:30 CET): farewells and hatch closure. Hatch closure scheduled for 02:00 GMT (03:00 CET)
  • 04:30 GMT (05:30 CET): undocking of Soyuz MS-05 spacecraft. Undocking scheduled for 05:16 GMT (06:16 CET)
  • 07:15 GMT (08:15 CET): reentry and landing coverage. First thruster firing to brake and reenter atmosphere scheduled for 07:44 GMT (08:44 CET). Touchdown in Kazakhstan expected at 08:38 GMT (09:38 CET)

The ride home from the International Space Station will see the trio brake from 28 800 km/h to a standstill at touchdown in barely three hours.

Paolo completed more than 60 experiments during his Vita mission, which stands for Vitality, Innovation, Technology and Ability.

His body was itself an arena for research: his eyes, headaches, sleeping patterns and eating habits were monitored to learn more about how humans adapt to life in space.

Temperature recordings, muscle exercises and plenty of blood and saliva samples will add to the picture and prepare humans for missions further from Earth. 

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