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ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano lands safely back on Earth

Luca back on Earth
Luca back on Earth

11 November 2013
ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, Russian commander Fyodor Yurchikhin, and NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg returned to Earth today at 02:49 GMT after spending 166 days in space!

Their return flight was in the same Soyuz spacecraft that flew them to the ISS on 29 May.

Luca and Karen will now travel to Houston, Texas, where they will undergo medical checks before meeting media on 13 November at 13:30 GMT.

During his 5 months on the ISS Luca conducted more than 30 scientific experiments. One of these had Luca taking samples of his own skin to help develop a model of how our tissues age. He also recorded his sleep to help understand how the human body regulates sleep patterns.

These experiments and more are benefitting people on Earth, and preparing humans for further exploration of our Solar System.

In addition to his scientific workload, Luca monitored the docking of ESA’s ATV-4 Albert Einstein and oversaw the unloading of more than 1400 items from the cargo spaceship!

luca parmitano spacewalk
Photo opportunity before reentry
His eventful mission included two spacewalks to install external experiments and prepare the Station for a new Russian module that will be launched next year.

Luca’s second spacewalk was cut short after a malfunction in the spacesuit caused water to accumulate inside his helmet, forcing him and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy to return to the airlock as quickly as possible.

Luca, a test pilot from the Italian air force, remained calm and returned to the airlock safely despite difficult communications, and without being able to see out of his helmet.

This was the first mission for Luca, and the first for ESA’s new astronauts from the class of 2009. The next to fly to the Station will be Alexander Gerst, set for launch on 28 May 2014 from Kazakhstan.

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