[WATCH] Astronauts From the ISS Endure Hard Landing While Returning to Earth

Friday, 05 October 2018 - 12:20PM
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Friday, 05 October 2018 - 12:20PM
[WATCH] Astronauts From the ISS Endure Hard Landing While Returning to Earth
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NASA/Bill Ingalls
Considering the recent air leak in the ISS, the three astronauts who set out for Earth yesterday aboard the Soyuz MS-08 were probably breathing sighs of relief. As magical as space is, low Earth orbit is a dangerous place, and even the ISS isn't immune to dangers like cosmic radiation or micro-meteorite impacts. Unfortunately for the astronauts, which included Russian Oleg Artemyev and Americans Drew Feustel and Ricky Arnold, the trip was anything but smooth—in fact, it was a bumpy ride that forced them to activate their emergency rockets, turning their landing into something with the same force as a "minor traffic accident."



Like most ISS astronauts, the returning crew had spent roughly half a year aboard the station, which included three space walks for the returning Americans. It took them four hours to journey from the ISS to their landing site in Kazakhstan, but along with the standard parachute, the capsule had to use its rockets to slow the descent. Despite the rough landing, the three astronauts stepped out of the capsule giving thumbs up, showing they were okay. None of them were hurt during the landing, and Artemyev even said "We're feeling just fine. In the mood to celebrate."

The ISS might be getting some new company in the coming years. According to NASA's new "National Space Exploration Campaign," one of the US' goals is to expand the space station's mission and bring commercial interests into low-Earth orbit, as well as explore the possibility of creating more free-flying habitable platforms, i.e., space stations. It's an interesting crossroads for the ISS, partly because the station is racing against the clock—its current decommission date is set for 2024 (which may be extended to 2028), but space agencies have already begun building plans to crash the station into the Pacific once it's outlived its usefulness.
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