Astronauts arrive home to Earth to find out that the world is now a weird place with the coronavirus pandemic, lockdowns, and social distancing happening.
What's The Scoop
The last time the three astronauts were on Earth, Jessica Meir, Andrew Morgan, and Oleg Skripochka, it was business as usual with all their fellow earthlings. Now, however, the mood has drastically changed.
They have been out in space for more than 200 days since they set foot on Earth, and there are a few changes when they arrived: no handshakes, hugs, or celebratory champagne to share with their friends and family due to the coronavirus pandemic now hitting the world hard. All three astronauts landed together Friday morning, Apr. 17 near Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
NASA tweeted out, "Home safe and sound," and also added, "Today's landing wraps up a 205-day mission for both @Astro_Jessica and Oleg Skripochka and a 272-day mission for @AstroDrewMorgan. Welcome home!"
Also, Friday marks the golden year since astronauts aboard Apollo 13 were forced to abort their lunar landing mission due to explosions crippled both service and command modules, which was 50 years ago.
Morgan, one of the astronauts who arrived from space, tweeted out, "50 years ago a crisis in space ended in the safe return of the #Apollo13 crew," and added, "Now, during the return of the Soyuz MS-15 crew, the crisis is on Earth. The constant: dedication and ingenuity of the mission control centers around the globe."
Meir and Morgan said at a press conference last week that they had been keeping up with what has been going on in the Earth regarding the coronavirus. However, there is a stark difference between watching afar and experiencing it first hand.
"We can watch news up here, and we've been talking to friends and families to try to paint a picture," and added, "But from up here, it's hard to understand what has transpired and how life will be different when we return," Morgan said.
Lake Balkhash #Kazakhstan isn’t all that far from where we’ll be landing in our #Soyuz on Friday . . . daydreaming about what it’ll feel like to be immersed in water again. . .#EarthArt pic.twitter.com/qIWCdLKv28 — Jessica Meir (@Astro_Jessica) April 14, 2020
What Happens Now
Morgan, initially selected by NASA as an astronaut in 2013 which also serves as an emergency physician with the U.S. Army. He said, "As an emergency physician, I know what it's like to be in a hospital or on the front lines of a field hospital," and added, "I'm very proud to be part of that profession, but at the same time, I feel guilt that I am as separated from it as I could be right now."
Usually, the protocol for NASA astronauts coming back from Earth is to do post-landing medical checks as doctors, and other NASA teams help the astronauts acquaint themselves with Earth's gravity once again and start walking.
As the world is facing the COVID-19, post-landing procedures are going to be more extensive than it usually is.
Spokesperson Courtney Beasley spoke at NASA's Johnson Space Center said, "NASA will closely adhere to the CDC's recommendations on infection control for the coronavirus as Andrew Morgan and Jessica Meir return to Earth and begin their post-flight medical testing and re-adaptation period,"
"This includes cleaning of surfaces, social distancing, emphasizing hand hygiene, encouraging NASA team members who are sick to stay home, and limiting contact with the crew members."