Welcome back to Earth, Thomas!
7 June 2017
ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet has successfully landed back on Earth after an amazing six-month mission to the International Space Station.
The journey back down to our planet was an exciting one! Thomas was joined in the Soyuz capsule by Russian commander Oleg Novitsky. The two space explorers then plunged into Earth’s atmosphere at more than 28,000 km/h, with friction from the air causing their Soyuz heatshield to reach 1600°C! Special rockets and parachutes were used to slow the craft down, while Thomas and Oleg were cushioned from the bumpy ride by their padded seats. Four hours after leaving the International Space Station, they were back on Earth!
Thomas emerged from the Soyuz capsule shaky but happy. He is now at ESA’s astronaut centre in Cologne, Germany. Doctors are checking that he is healthy, and will investigate how his body has changed after living in weightlessness for six months. This research will help future astronauts who will also be weightless on long missions.
Thomas’s mission to the International Space Station was called Proxima. He was very busy, taking part in more than 60 experiments about the human brain, ocean currents, radiation in space, and even testing new materials for spacecraft. Proxima was a great success, thanks to Thomas and all the scientists and engineers who helped him!
Cool fact: Thomas took part in two spacewalks during his mission!