ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst arrived at Cologne airport on the evening of 20 December 2018. He had landed on Earth for the second time earlier in the morning together with NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Roscosmos cosmonaut Sergei Prokopiev. Their Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft landed in the steppe of Kazakhstan at 05:02 GMT (11:02 local time). The landing concluded Alexander’s Horizons mission that saw him take over command of the International Space Station during Expedition 57.
The trio’s landing in the Kazakh steppe marked the successful conclusion of over six months in space during which Alexander conducted over 60 European experiments, became the second ever European commander of the International Space Station, welcomed six resupply vehicles, installed the first commercial facility for research in the Columbus laboratory, delivered an important message on climate change for leaders at the COP24 climate change conference, captured real-time footage of a Soyuz launch abort and much, much more.
Horizons was Alexander’s second mission to the International Space Station – the first was Blue Dot in 2014.
Alexander will take his time to readapt to Earth’s gravity supported by ESA’s team of space medicine experts at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. He will also continue to provide ground-based data for researchers to support experiments performed in space.