Three ISS crew members return home to Earth
Expedition 41 crew members returned to Earth Sunday after completing their mission at the International Space Station.
Aside from mission commander Max Suraev from the Russian Federal Space Agency, crew members for Expedition 41 included Alexander Gerst from the European Space Agency and Reid Wiseman from NASA. This is Suraev's second time in space and the first for Gerst and Wiseman. After 165 days in space, with a total of more than 70 million miles traveled, they landed in Kazakhstan, off northeast of Arkalyk, a remote town.
Expedition 41 involved research on Earth remote sensing, studies on muscle and bone physiology, and advanced manufacturing. For completing 82 hours of research in one week in July, Suraev, Gerst, and Wiseman set a milestone for the ISS.
Human health management was one of the key areas Expedition 41 crew members focused as the mission explored long-duration space travel in preparation for the time that Roscosmos and NASA will be sending two people to the ISS to spend a year in the space station in 2015.
Aside from their research work, the Expedition 41 crew members also saw five cargo missions during their time in space. Two were Russian ISS Progress vehicles which arrived in July and October to bring supplies, while the fifth was the European Automated Transfer Vehicle called Georges Lemaitre, named after the Belgian physicist dubbed to be the father of the big bang theory.
A new monitoring instrument referred to as RapidScat was also installed and activated during the Expedition 41 mission, as well as a 3D printer. The instrument will be used for measuring wind speed and direction over oceans' surfaces on Earth, measurements that will be essential for predicting weather, while the 3D printer is being tested as a part of the effort to establish an on-demand machine shop in the space station.
For the mission, Gerst and Wiseman ventured outside the space station for a scheduled spacewalk, relocating a failed pump module as well as configuring the facility for upcoming additions. Wiseman completed another spacewalk during his stay at the space station but the second time was with Barry Wilmore, also from NASA. Suraev went on one spacewalk during the Expedition 41 mission.
With the end of Expedition 41, Expedition 42 crew members took over the ISS, with Wilmore as mission commander. He is joined by Elena Serova and Alexander Samokutyaev from Roscosmos. Three more persons will join them in the coming weeks: Samantha Cristoforetti from the European Space Agency, Anton Shkaplerov from Roscosmos, and Terry Virts from NASA. Cristoforetti, Shkaplerov, and Virts will be launching from Kazakhstan on Nov. 23.