NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins and cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy completed their 166 mission aboard the International Space Station and returned to Earth on March 10. The trio landed safely in Kazakhstan at 11:24 p.m. EDT after undocking from the ISS at 8:02 p.m. EDT, reports NASA.
Kotov served as the Expedition 38 Commander while Hopkins and Ryazanskiy served as Flight Engineers aboard the ISS. On Sunday, Kotov handed over control of the International Space Station to Japan Aerospace Exploration Astronaut Koichi Wakata.
The departing Expedition 38 crew members said their farewells and closed the hatches of the Soyuz TMA-10 spacecraft at 4:45 p.m. EDT. The ISS mission was the first for Hopkins and Ryazanskiy and the third for Kotov. Hopkins completed two spacewalks, totaling 12 hours and 58 minutes outside the space station, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed three spacewalks on the Russian side of the ISS, totaling 20 hours and five minutes.
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Hopkins and NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio completed two emergency spacewalks to repair a faulty ammonia pump. The second spacewalk was delayed until Christmas Eve due to an issue with Mastracchio’s space suit.
Kotov and Ryazanskiy took part in the 2014 Winter Olympics torch relay on Nov. 9, 2013 and the cosmonauts also completed a record-breaking spacewalk on Dec. 28, spending 8 hours and 3 minutes outside the space station. The cosmonauts were set to install two UrtheCast cameras but removed them following a technical glitch. The cameras were successfully installed on Jan. 28, 2014.
The ISS usually has a six-man crew, although it can fit up to nine astronauts, but the space station will be in the hands of just three astronauts. Wakata and Flight Engineers Mastracchio and cosmonaut Mikhail Tyurin will have to wait until March 25 for their fellow Expedition 39 crew members. NASA astronaut Steve Swanson and cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev will launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan will serve as Expedtion 39/40 crew members while Wakata, Mastracchio and Tyurin will depart in May.
Video of the undocking and the hatch closure, courtest of NASA, can be viewed below.