Trio back home after 172-day space mission

Disappearing into a layer of haze
Disappearing into a layer of haze PHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Disappearing into a layer of haze (above) as it approached the ground, the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft capsule carrying (left, from top) United States astronaut Jeff Williams, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin landed south-east
The trio wrapped up a 172-day mission aboard the International Space Station with a parachute descent (above) and landing at dawn on the steppes, a Nasa TV broadcast showed. PHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
United States astronaut Jeff Williams
United States astronaut Jeff Williams
Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka
Russian cosmonauts Oleg SkripochkaPHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
 Alexey Ovchinin
Alexey OvchininPHOTOS: REUTERS, EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Disappearing into a layer of haze as it approached the ground, the Soyuz TMA-20M spacecraft capsule carrying  United States astronaut Jeff Williams, and Russian cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin landed south-east of the town of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan yesterday.

The trio wrapped up a 172-day mission aboard the International Space Station with a parachute descent and landing at dawn on the steppes, a Nasa TV broadcast showed.

Before leaving the station, Mr Williams turned over command of the US$100 billion (S$134.4 billion) outpost, a project involving 15 nations, to cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin, who remains aboard with Nasa astronaut Kate Rubins and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi.

"We'll be missing you here," Mr Ivanishin said during a change-of-command ceremony on Monday. "Have fun riding though the atmosphere... and have a very safe and exceptionally soft landing."

The three who returned wore traditional Kazakh hats at a press conference after their landing. A replacement crew is due to launch on Sept 23 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline 'Trio back home after 172-day space mission'. Print Edition | Subscribe